Memorable talks from TEDMED 2013_part I

2 May 2013 by Ivana Gadjanski, posted in TEDMED

One of the talks that made the biggest impression on me at TEDMED2013 was the talk by Salvatore Iaconesi - artist, open-source engineer, TED fellow and 2013 Eisenhower fellow who gave a very moving and yet even funny talk about the project he started once he found out he had cancer. The project he named La Cura - the cure in Italian is about sharing open-source data about the disease to everyone and getting feedback from everyone, not only doctors, but also artists, designers, hackers, scientists, doctors, photographers, videomakers, musicians, writers... The point was that every single feedback Salvatore got in this way was equally important and every single feedback helped him in the fight against the brain cancer.

This is how Salvatore starts his story:

" I have a brain cancer. 

Salvatore is showing MRI of his own brain cancer

Yesterday I went to get my digital medical records: I have to show them to many doctors.
Sadly they were in a closed, proprietary format and, thus, I could not open them using my computer, or send them in this format to all the people who could have saved my life.
I cracked them.
I opened them and converted the contents into open formats, so that I could share them with everyone."

Salvatore said he never wanted pity!

And the best news of all is that Salvatore is now fine!

Of course, the message of this talk is not that only by sharing data the cancer can be cured. The message is that the whole La Cura project, the experience, the active engagement meant a lot not only to Salvatore but also to the people around him who all felt like they are actively doing something to fight the disease instead of feeling utterly helpless and waiting to see what the doctors will say and what the cancer will "decide" to do. It helped everyone feel involved and it gave courage to everyone, most of all Salvatore.

Psychosomatic effects are very important, the way patients emotionally deal with their disease is sometimes crucial, medicine does take that into account, but perhaps it should do so even more. Not only emotions, but thoughts, actions of any kind, including artistic ones!

Being creative instead of being hopeless is bound to have positive effect on the somatic part as well.

Salvatore's example shows it clearly!

Salvatore and me at TEDMED 2013

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