Understanding the Human Side of Medicine: Dr. Don S. Dizon Reflects on Writing 100 Blog Posts for ASCOconnection.org

Oct 29, 2015

On October 29, 2015, Don S. Dizon, MD, FACP, published his 100th blog post for ASCO Connection. In recognition of this outstanding contribution, the Society awarded Dr. Dizon a plaque during a special ceremony held at ASCO Headquarters on September 24.

Since he first began writing for ASCOconnection.org in 2011, Dr. Dizon has written posts that speak straight from the heart, addressing the struggles, successes, and myriad experiences of both patients with cancer and the doctors involved in their care. In the following Q&A, Dr. Dizon reflects on his experience in writing 100 blog posts.

AC: What is the inspiration behind your blog?

DSD: I write about experiences that I’ve taken a lesson away from, when an event has impacted me in some way, or if it was an emotionally charged experience. Blogging gives me a forum in which to tell a story about events that have evoked some sort of an emotion, whether it is sadness, humor, or in some cases, even frustration.

AC: What do you personally get out of the writing process?

DSD: It’s sort of cathartic actually. As oncologists, we talk a lot about preventing burnout—how not to get too involved in our patients’ lives, especially those who progress and then those who die. Oncology is an emotional field, and I think each of us needs to find a way to manage that. So, I write for myself, and for anybody else, and through the Connection blog, I get to make sense of my thoughts and process them. There is therapy in storytelling.

AC: What feedback have you received about the posts?

DSD: It’s always nice to hear from colleagues who will say, “You wrote a great piece,” or, “I follow your blog.” Some of the feedback I’ve gotten is from perfect strangers who contact me through Twitter or who send a note through social media sites, just saying, “Your blog spoke to me because this is what I’ve been going through and this is what my experience is like.”

AC: Can you talk about how blogging for ASCO Connection opens up other opportunities to volunteer with ASCO?

DSD: Over the years, I have recommended columnists for ASCO and some of those colleagues became bloggers and have gone on to serve roles in ASCO either on panels or as committee members. Blogging is a great way for members to get to know ASCO and to have other members get to know them.

AC: How do blogs serve a unique role in medical writing?

DSD: There’s a freedom in writing a blog, which are not formally preserved in the way that academic articles are. I think there’s an interest in the general public about understanding the lives of physicians, and I’d like to think that through my blogs, I’m helping patients understand that physicians are actually human and have human experiences. I think understanding the human side of medicine is part of the art of medicine.

Dr. Dizon is Clinical Co-Director of Gynecologic Oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center, where he also is Founder and Director of the Oncology Sexual Health Clinic. Dr. Dizon serves as Chair of ASCO’s Cancer Communications Committee. Follow Dr. Dizon on Twitter @drdonsdizon.

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