An oncologist walks into a room full of patients in varying stages of cancer treatment, living each day scan to scan, some of whom have lost all their hair. He's got the standards: A white lab coat, his trusty stethoscope, and... a guitar?
Meet Dr. Steven Eisenberg, founder of Chemotopia, a San Diego-based initiative that makes every effort to lessen the blow of cancer treatment. He writes and sings songs to patients undergoing chemotherapy.
How can utopia, a word that implies a perfect world, ever be connected to cancer? Eisenberg explains that while chemo can be one of the scariest of all treatments, he wanted to create a place where patients understood every step of treatment, and where doctors were compassionate. A place where hi-tech meets hi-touch.
While Eisenberg uses song (each one is tailored to a specific patient's journey) as another aspect of care and "an anthem to listen to when they're really down and out," he recognizes that not all doctors will turn to music. The main goal is to redefine patient-doctor communication. Chemotopia urges patients and doctors to form a powerful relationship based on clear conversation by joining compassion and care with technology. The belief is that healing can begin once the doors of communication open.
At the end of the day, "Chemotopia is about having people get into the deepest part of themselves... that they are not their cancer," he says. "Cancer doesn't define a person. It's transformative, even for those who are incurable."