The Anatomy Of Hope: Dr Groopman And Dr Hartzband

Optimism is the belief that things are going to get better. Hope is the belief that we can make things better. In the face of often incredible suffering, it takes courage to hope. When the chips are down, and when we need a powerful shot of motivation to help us find new ways to reach our goal and push us forward towards its achievement, there is no substitute for hope.

Understanding this is important. We recently met with two internationally-acclaimed medical doctors from Harvard, Dr Jerome Groopman, M.D, and his wife Dr Pamela Hartzband  at a media briefing, on how hope can change the course of an illness on a biological level.

1. As an oncologist, what is the number one advice you would give to people living 2018 with regards to living a cancer-preventing lifestyle?

Dr Groopman: “Screenings are very important. After a certain age, a colonoscopy is absolutely lifesaving. I know that it is not necessarily a pleasant task, but it is vital. Then, my own sense is that mammograms save lives, and with the new techniques, the radiation exposure is minimal. Also, I believe that PHA screening is meaningful. It is a complex thing to know how to deal with the environment, and there are so many different chemicals and factors out there, that to pinpoint one or two would be difficult, but doubtless certain cancers – particularly lymphoma – has increased dramatically in the past twenty years. It is believed that the reasons for this is the changes in the environment – pollution, chemicals, etc. For that, you need to try to have your diet include foods free from pesticides. Also, individualize and specify. If you have a family history of certain cancers, you really need to do what you can within that lane of cancer to prevent it.

2. How can families better support members who are going through a difficult time with regards to their health? 

Dr Groopman: “The power of positive thinking is very important, and families need to encourage each other in this manner,” Dr Groopman explains. “But everyone experiences negative thoughts – it’s inevitable – and it’s important that family members know they can express something that is weighing on them, or that they are fearful, or feeling negative. From there, they can work out which path they will take.”

Dr Pamela Hartzband: “I can add to this. We spoke a couple – both of them doctors –  where the wife was very ill with leukemia. At one stage, the husband told us that while his wife was sick, everyone always asked after her and her health, and no one asked him how he was doing with the situation. The caretakers – the family – also needs that support as well.”

3. What is the biggest health issue you are seeing in this day and age? 

Dr Groopman: “Time. In order for doctors, patients and nurses to understand the condition, medication and treatment, it really does take time. Also, to reassess, to find out if this treatment is working or not. One of our concerns in the States is this shift to almost a factory model, of co-deficiency, where patients are almost treated like they are on a production line. Doctors need to learn how to spend the adequate amount of time with their patients.”

Dr Hartzband: “I’ll give you an example. We have an electronic medical record, and one of the doctors was told by one of the people who were doing it, that they needed to add one more little checkbox, which wouldn’t take more than a second. So the doctor asked the person what it was for, and the response was: discussing end of life concerns. Absolutely no regard for the time it takes to work through those things.” Click here to find out more about the author.

4. What are the top 5 things that people can do for their health? 

  • “Stop smoking.
  • Find an exercise that works for you. The best kind of exercise is the one you actually enjoy.
  • Take care of not just your physical health, but also your mental health.
  • Understand the value of your relationships to your health. Some of the healthiest people are the ones who stay connected with people and enjoy good, meaningful relationships.
  • Make the decision to be happy. It’s good for you.”

Who are the doctors?

Dr Jerome Groopman and his wife, Dr Pamela Hartzband, are specialists at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, and are affiliated to the Harvard Medical School. Dr Jerome Groopman, is the Recanati Professor of Immunology at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, and one of the world’s leading researchers in cancer and AIDS. He is world-renown author and his books, including his ground-breaking work “The Anatomy of Hope”.

Click here to find out more about the new silver bullet against cancer.