The beginning of a journey

“Cancer is so incredibly difficult, and I’m sure we all know someone who’s been affected by it.” - Caroline Shafa

So began the kickoff meeting to the Breast Cancer Journey Project, a multidisciplinary project that aims to improve the difficultly of something as terrifying and exhausting as a cancer diagnosis. The team began not with an end in mind, but an end-user. By using human-centered design methodologies, the team discussed the importance of designing with the end-user in mind rather than the end goal. There was an understanding amongst the team that we may not know the true problems we are trying to solve until we learn about the difficulties from our end users' perspectives.

We listened to the moving story of a former patient who spoke of the ups and downs of the process—where she felt isolated and supported, afraid and surprised, alien and human. She provided the initial kernel of insight by which we could begin to empathize with breast cancer patients and survivors, as well as help direct their own, deeper research into the topic. 

The research stretched in all directions: What does the medical literature say about studying the journey? How does popular culture portray this experience? What do current patient satisfaction surveys say about how we deliver care at Sibley? Which other organizations provides not only excellent clinical oncological care, but a warm and personalized experience as well?

With the first meeting of 7 completed, the team created and excellent foundation to help guide the project. While we may not know exactly where we’ll end up, we do know that it will result in a great opportunity to improve the care we provide our patients.