SAN DIEGOIn 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 Hospital.
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 shopthe "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.