Re: Towards the patient revolution
It is by now abundantly clear that patients understand the impact of disease and its treatment far more than clinicians  and they understand the realities of their condition and the effect of that and of its treatment on their lives  to an extent that their clinicians cannot. A powerful demonstration of this can be found in a small pamphlet called simply "Treatment" by John Mole, of which oncologist Dr Sam Guglani writes, ‘This is required reading for all health professionals’.
It is a sequence of poems about John Mole’s experience of chemotherapy. These possess a truly personal reality, and the means by which they do this also make them work brilliantly as poetry.
He says he rides the waves of nausea, for example, like a surfer mastering the tide.
The experiences of hair loss and changed appearance are presented as reactions by well meaning acquaintances: ‘Without your beard/You’re a new man…At first/ I didn’t recognise you.’
And there are striking references to Macbeth: ‘Who would have thought the old man/To have had so much blood in him…No king but a commoner/In his hospital nightshirt’ – while the many drugs become the witches’ brew ‘on the blasted heath’.
Not much here to cheer a patient; but at the end, although ‘The doldrums/ Of fatigue repeat themselves’, he writes, ‘Not long now/ Before the weather’s better’.
The pamphlet may be obtained from the publisher, Shoestring Press, for £6 or, better, from John Mole (11 Hill Street, St Albans AL3 4QS), who will send £1.50 of this to Macmillan Nurses.
1 Godlee F. Towards the patient revolution.
BMJ 2014;348:g1209 (Published 29 January 2014)
2 Richards T, Montori VM, Godlee F, Lapsley P, Paul D. Let the patient revolution begin. BMJ 2013;346:f2614 (Published 14 May 2013)
Competing interests: No competing interests