“ Medicine is advancing very fast. Every year, we have new treatments, new possibilities to cure cancer.
We are honored to have Dr. Erard de Hemricourt be the first international physician we have interviewed as a “Featured mAss Kicker.” He is the co-founder of Esperity, a website where cancer patients throughout the world can connect with each other without any language barriers. Esperity provides users with a tool for the daily management of their condition, involving their cancer treatment, symptoms, lifestyle indicators and a logbook. Dr. de Hemricourt has extensive experience in nuclear medicine and is a health blogger at http://www.santenews.eu/ We met him in San Diego at a medical conference. We were very excited to find many similarities between mAss Kickers Foundation and Esperity! We are honored to sit down with him and ask him a few questions.
mK: Thank you for doing this Dr. de Hemricourt. What is your relationship to tumors/cancer:
EDH: I am a nuclear medicine specialist. I work with cancer patients every day.
mK: How did you start Esperity? What is the mission/goals of Esperity?
EDH: It’s a long story. A few years ago, I read a book (The Decision Tree)written by a very smart guy Thomas Goetz and it was like an epiphany for me. I discovered that some patients are more empowered than others, they want advice and information of course but they can easily challenge you and discuss about things you think you are the only one to master.
I really liked this idea and wanted to develop something similar here in Europe. But of course nothing was easy! Our main mission at Esperity is of course the empowerment of cancer patients. But that’s not the only objective we have. We want to give information through objective channels (scientific articles) and subjective ones (through patients’ discussion, interaction). We want also to be part of the fight against cancer. We have already been contacted by students and cancer networks for using our esperity platform in order to conduct surveys, realize international studies on very specific subjects.
mK: Interesting. How do people typically find out if they are eligible for clinical trials?
EDH: This is a really tough question because the majority of patients (not just cancer patients, I mean ALL patients) don’t even know about clinical trials. So we hope to educate all patients and show them that there are clinical trials. Hopefully, they find a study that they could fit into and that help them coping with their disease. For patients, it’s very easy, they can go on their wall on Esperity, click on the Clinical Trials module and type their disease and location and voilà!
Then comes the difficult part, they need some time to read and more importantly understand the medical gibberish. It becomes easier and open discussions with their own medical specialists or with other patients on Esperity.
mK: Yes, translating the medical jargon can be very intimidating for patients! It would be nice to have “medical translators” to sit down with patients to go though a medical report with a patient thoroughly. What motivates you?
EDH: My main motivation is to stimulate patients. I want them to become more active in the management of their life and their disease. And this is not always the case, but if patients are in greater control of their care, then I will be very happy.
mK: A proactive patient, needs to be heard, but at the same time the medical care teams need to be respectfully. Anyways, who is your personal hero or are your heroes?
EDH : Of course Einstein, and my two little daughters.
mK: Family is so important! Let’s get to know you… What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
EDH: Tough one. A good movie, injustice, stupidity. Taking the plane (very scared during each flight).
mK: HAHAHA! What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
EDH: Believe in destiny. Nobody knows for sure what will occur tomorrow. We just need to be prepared and go ahead.
mK: Based on what you’ve observed, what is the toughest challenge a survivor faces?
EDH: Trust: Trust in him/herself, in medicine, in friends … 25% of patients fear any cancer relapse. Nothing is impossible, if you stand up and start addressing the problems. And please, don’t withdraw to yourself. Be open. Ask for help.
mK: Most of the cancer survivors we know have some fear of relapse. What is your guilty pleasure?
EDH: Chocolate !!!
mK: Hee hee… A lot people say chocolate! OK, another strange question for you: If you could go back in time for 1 week, when would it be? What would you do?
EDH: 1 week is not enough. I would like to go back at the beginning of the 20th century and live in Paris. This period is called “Les Années Folles” – The Golden twenties. I would have love to be part of the artistic emancipation (Monet, Manet, Joséphine Baker, Syndey Bechet, etc.)
mK: Europe in the 1920’s! Cool! What are you up to now?
EDH: Still improving Esperity. We want to deliver a better tool for all patients around the world. It’s a never-ending-story.
mK: The work never ends, but important work none the less! Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
EDH: Very difficult question. The same diagnosis will be accepted differently by patients depending on very subjective parameters. I would say:
“if you want to cry, just cry,
to shout, just shout,
live every seconds of your life.
Do whatever you didn’t dare to do. And keep confidence.”
Medicine is advancing very fast. Every year, we have new treatments, new possibilities to cure cancer. Nobody knows what is behind the door. Even not your doctor!
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know…
EDH: Since the birth of my first daughter, 2,5 year ago, I see life on a different scale. I am more concerned by aging. I am more hypochondriac (not good for a doctor, believe me!). My vision of life has completely changed in a positive way.
mK: Yes, perspectives always evolve. Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
EDH: I see there are genuine people wanting to help others all over the globe. It enlightens my days knowing that we are not alone struggling against the disease and that people around us (in Europe, America, Asia) share the same concerns.
Dr. Erard de Hemricourt: Unified Cancer Fighting Team member, man with “New Papa Perspective”, 1920s fanatic, Chocolate lover, strong clinical trials advocate, nuclear medicine specialist, and ambitious patient advocate. Thanks for chatting with us Dr. de Hemricourt! The potential to UNITE the World against ALL FORMS of tumors/cancer has just gotten stronger! Check out Esperity when you get the chance.