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Dr. Shapiro’s Real-Life Tribute to Oncology Nurses

Dr. Shapiro’s Real-Life Tribute to Oncology Nurses

SAN DIEGO—In his keynote address—"A Funny Thing Happened
on the Way to Chemotherapy"—Daniel Shapiro, PhD, used his gift for
stand-up comedy to relay an important message: Everyday, in ways they don’t
even realize, oncology nurses make a huge difference in patients’ lives.

Drawing on his own experiences as a cancer patient, Dr. Shapiro
emphasized nurses’ critical role in providing a human touch in the
often-dehumanizing world of cancer treatment.

Speaking at the Oncology Nursing Society’s 26th Annual Congress, Dr.
Shapiro regaled conference attendees with a series of anecdotes from his
5-year bout with Hodgkin’s disease. 

Diagnosed in 1987, Dr. Shapiro weathered his initial treatment and two relapses (including a bone marrow transplant) while earning his PhD from the
University of Florida and then attending Harvard Medical School.

At Harvard, he completed an internship at McLean Hospital and had an
endowed fellowship in medical crisis counseling at Boston Children’s
Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women’s

Dr. Shapiro, now assistant professor of integrative medicine and
psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson,
peppered his real-life stories with humorous explorations of
"taboo" subjects such as medical marijuana and sperm banking.

In one vignette, his mother, who was initially horrified at his request
for medical marijuana, has an overnight change of heart and treks downtown
to the local head shop—the "Stairway to Heaven"—to buy the
necessary paraphernalia. His parents then convert the family’s beloved
vegetable garden, zealously cultivating a bumper crop of marijuana plants
for their son.


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