It’s not just idle curiosity. Melissa uses what she calls the “healing power of storytelling” to guide her patient care. Telling stories helps her patients open up to her, she says. Their stories help her understand not only what diagnostic tests are needed, but if a patient will be able to follow through on health care suggestions, and challenges in their home environment like whether or not a relative might steal pain medications. It also helps Melissa understand how hard it can be for a patient to follow through on recommended cancer screenings.
Melissa is part of an innovative program called Kentucky LEADS (Lung Cancer Education, Awareness, Detection and Survivorship) funded by the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation through its Bridging Cancer Care program. Bridging Cancer Care focuses on reducing the burden of lung cancer among minority and underserved populations through innovative models of prevention, detection and education, and by helping people living with lung cancer access and navigate cancer care and community-based supportive services.