Welcome to the new PatientCommando.com

More about you. By you…
Your story. Your video, photo, signature, comment.

Start now and change the world.

Patient Commando #TentTalk – Live Journal

“Healing Through Theatre” – July 10th, 5PM at The Toronto Fringe Festival Tent Talks

Relevant Hashtags: #FringeTT#TentTalk #FringeClub

♦♦♦ Pre Event ♦♦♦

13:00 via @PatientCommando: Join us Today for our @Toronto_Fringe tent talk with @CancerCantDance details on FB http://t.co/9Sba9WPu

13:05 via @PatientCommando: PM Tent Talk at 581 Bloor Street for @Toronto_Fringe – Come one, Come all.

(RT via @mhoul3)

13:12 via @Colleen_Young: @PatientCommando see you at the #FringeTT at 5pm for your show. Can’t wait http://t.co/vPGmEfJk

13:39 via @PatientCommando: Everything you need to know about today’s Tent Talk event – http://t.co/0sIdoxca

(RT via @Toronto_Fringe, @rosabourin, @BeeRaskob)

16:00 via @PatientCommando: 1 Hour to show time @Toronto_Fringe “Healing Through Theatre” #FringeTT http://t.co/0sIdoxca

(RT via @EatPooLove)

16:41 via @PatientCommando: Getting our team sorted, the camera primed and twitter feed at the ready

♦♦♦ Event Start ♦♦♦

17:00 via @verbitty: Taking in a @Toronto_Fringe #TentTalk at Artist Alley about theatre’s power to heal, follow me for all the live action!

17:01 via @PatientCommando: Tent talk starting and its a packed house

17:02 via @PatientCommando: Clare from @Toronto_Fringe kicks us off

17:04 via @PatientCommando: Intros with Brian G Smith, Dan Stolfi, Zal, and Dr. Jeremy  Photo: http://t.co/4Uw41jZK

17:06 via @PatientCommando: Zal talking about what we do http://t.co/fIZCl19c 

17:08 via @verbitty: Patients like to tell their story, empowers them to engage their providers for better care

17:08 via @PatientCommando: Dr. Jeremy talking about how telling a story “works”

17:10 via @PatientCommando: Improv creates an authentic story – Brian G Smith Photo: http://t.co/G7K5egPI

17:12 via @verbitty: Arts Health Initiative uses humour with retirement residents, reduces agitation and increases sociability

17:13 via @PatientCommando: Improv and humorous patient storytelling shows a 20% decrease in agitation in patients

(RT @IHaveIIH)

17:13 via @verbitty: Not just using humour, but empathy and emotion to connect with patients

17:14 via @verbitty: Patch Adams: Treat the disease you win or lose; treat the patient, you win everytime

17:14 via @PatientCommando: You treat the patient you win everytime. #PatchAdams

17:16 via @PatientCommando: Zal demonstrates theatre and connection Photo: http://t.co/boaXjWrk

17:18 via @PatientCommando: Zal demonstrating the power of impressions Photo: http://t.co/ATD8cExA

17:19 via @verbitty: Theatre is about illusion and perspective, applying to healing changes views on illness and response

17:20 via @PatientCommando: Dan Stolfi shares his story Photo: http://t.co/ILFyTmTP

17:24 via @verbitty: Cancer Can’t Dance Like This: from Fringe to national, giving cancer sufferes a voice via awareness and education

17:25 via @PatientCommando:@CancerCantDance shares benefits of telling an award winning show and now working with Brian Photo: http://t.co/JMI0bKU3

17:33 via @PatientCommando: @CancerCantDance and @Toronto_Fringe 100 play “Dr. Know it all”. Hilarity ensues Photo: http://t.co/Z2IakYAV

17:33 via @verbitty: From Giraffe Elboowtology to Elephant Testicles (Period): Three-Headed Doctor and other improv games

17:35 via @PatientCommando: Dr. Jeremy discusses med school, humour, and narrative.

17:37 via @PatientCommando: Questions from the audience. I think I know this guy…

17:39 via @verbitty: Acceptance of hardships, sickness or otherwise, gives you power over it to use for humour and theatre

17:39 via @PatientCommando: @CancerCantDance shares insights from his journey – when to introduce story to a patient and share

17:42 via @verbitty: Theatre liberates you from the downs of sickness active listening creates doctor-patient empathy

17:42 via @PatienCommando: “Theatre can build #empathy” – Zal Press

17:43 via @verbitty: Using humour and more accessible patient language to help patients laugh sooner and cope better

17:44 via @PatientCommando: No one wants to hear “knock knock, it’s cancer.” – Dr. Jeremy Photo: http://t.co/kzjjC6QZ

17:47 via @PatientCommando: A patient story can provide the reframing necessary for a posititve patient-doctor relationship.

17:49 via @verbitty: Medicine is a blend of art and science

17:51 via @PatientCommando: Zal – talking about patient commando. Come visit us. (shameless plug)

17:52 via @verbitty: Patient Commando amplifies patient voice empowers, engages, teaches narrative skills to play own role in healing

17:55 via @PatientCommando: How to balance humour and mockery in patient relationships. @CancerCantDance shares his experience. Photo: http://t.co/kuzIjYJO

17:56 via @verbitty: Line between using vs imposing humour, coping vs mockery; know audience, turn topic on self so others relate

18:00 via @PatientCommando: One more improve/creative exercise with @CancerCantDance Photo: http://t.co/m7HJ8oqx

(RT @thisisjboogie)

18:06 via @PatientCommando: Questions from the audience turn this activity into a terrifically funny activity

18:08 via @PatientCommando: Thank you to all who attended. Now to @EatPooLove’s show at the Randolph theatre at 9PM. Thx @Toronto_Fringe

18:10 via @verbitty: Hilarious #TentTalk on theatre and healing! Talks every day at 5, visit Artist Alley at @Toronto_Fringe for a talk or come see a show!

21:40 via @Toronto_Fringe: @PatientCommando Read the live tweets that The 100 made at the #TentTalk Great talk today!

♦♦♦ End of Event ♦♦♦

For more photos on our Fringe Festival event visit us on Facebook.

Thanks to all who helped support this event via Twitter.

@MargaretAtwood @Toronto_Fringe @EatPooLove @pipbradford @Vnusinbluejeans @BeeRaskob @sarahmagni @OffTheTwuff @AijaGreen @MarryMeOwen @verbitty @mhoul3 @kathykastner @colleen_young @StampedAStory @thisisjboogie @danielstolfi @cancercantdance @harriseve @med_writer @rosabourin @IHaveIIH

Tent Talk: Healing Through Theatre

Today at 5:00 PM we will present our Toronto Fringe Festival Tent Talk: Healing Through Theatre. All are welcome to attend.

Our Executive Director Zal Press, will be joined by speakers Daniel Stolfi, of the Award Winning Theatre Production, Cancer Can’t Dance Like This, and Dr. Jeremy Rezmovits, from Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.  Brian G. Smith, Creative Director for Patient Commando and The Second-City Alumni will facilitate this humorous one-hour event.

During a kick-off event at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Theatre last year, Brian orchestrated a brilliant performance that demonstrated the power of theatre and humour. While today’s event will be a slightly different program it will undoubtably build upon the efficacy of performance.  Join us.

Event Details:

Panel members from the health industry, show business and patient organizations tackle the topic of “Healing Through Theatre” in a riotous discussion. This is Laugh Therapy at its best. Moderated by Brian G. Smith, presented by PatientCommando.com

More information available here

The Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s 581 Bloor St W

Tuesday July 10th 5:00-6:00pm: Healing Through Theatre

Bar open 4:30pm – 12am

If you can’t make it we’ll be on Twitter the entire time tweeting #FringeTT

Michael Seres – The Man With Olympic Sized Guts

The morning after my first bowel resection over 21 years ago, I was lying in bed still woozy from anesthetic. A troop of white coated doctors entered the room and surrounded my bed. It was my surgical team.

The lead resident was filling me in on how successful the operation was, how much bowel was removed, when he added, “Oh, by the way, while we were in there we removed your appendix too.”

He was much too casual about taking one of my body parts. I panicked momentarily, groping myself between my legs to make sure the surgeons hadn’t got carried away “while they were in there”!

I’ve learned to live with the consequences of those missing lengths for a couple of decades. I know I’ve been lucky. There are people in far worse condition than me. Then 5 days ago I came across Michael Seres online.

Michael didn’t just have a bowel resection. After years of chronic Crohn’s disease his bowel completely collapsed. A resection wasn’t going to do the trick. He needed a whole new bowel and was slated to be one of the very first people in the UK to undergo a bowel transplant.

The transplant took place in October, 2011. It hasn’t been an easy journey. But on Sunday, June 8, 2012, Michael sets a new standard in guts and glory by being an Olympic Torchbearer for the 2012 London Olympics.

You can watch him walk streamed live online here at approximately 9 a.m. EDT. If you miss it, we’ll be featuring it next week on our site.

We’re also going to be featuring Michael’s writings which are honest, enlightening, and visceral. With all that he’s undergone, he continues to understand the inherent connection between his reality and that of his wife and children. Through his constant blogging, and that of his wife Justine and young son Nathan, we will share all the intimate details of this unique story.

Even as one who has lost parts of my gut, I have difficulty relating to losing it all, then getting someone else’s to replace it. Michael Seres is my new hero. Aside from offering himself up as a guinea pig for this procedure, he’s taking us all along for the ride.

Thanks Michael. It’ll be exciting to see your walk on Sunday. Be careful playing with torches.

Here’s a couple of Michael’s blog posts to get you started.

The Fringe Festival Pushes Patient Story Into the Fray

The Toronto Fringe Festival is arguably the city’s largest theatre event.  This summer from July 4-15, over 150 performances will be presented to an expected audience of 100,000. That’s a whopping 4% of Toronto’s population.

What makes the Fringe exciting is the process in how acts are selected for the festival.  Each year hundreds of creative applicants send in their ballot to have a show slotted for a Fringe playbill. With no judge or jury, the shows are picked at random, making for a wildly organic and impressive lineup.

Fringe audiences are accustomed to alternative theatre.  Which is why it’s the perfect environment to showcase the new, truthful, gritty, and sometimes slightly less glamourous stories.  In our minds The Fringe is also the ideal arena for patient storytelling.

Last year proved this with the highly acclaimed performance of Daniel Stolfi’s “Cancer Can’t Dance Like This”. Daniel’s show has since gone on to win the Canadian Comedy Award for Best One Person Show, and garner national attention.

This year will be no different. In fact this year’s program offers at least two patient story events for public consumption. Details of these shows below.

Healing Through Theatre

Host: Brian G. Smith (Second City Alumni) Panel: Zal Press (Patient Commando),  Dr. Jeremy Rezmovitz (Sunnybrook Hospital), Daniel Stolfi (Cancer Can’t Dance Like This)

Event Details:

Panel members from the health industry, show business and patient organizations tackle the topic of “Healing Through Theatre” in a riotous discussion. This is Laugh Therapy at its best. Moderated by Brian G. Smith, presented by PatientCommando.com


The Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s 581 Bloor St W

Tuesday July 10th 5:00-6:00pm: Healing Through Theatre

Bar open 4:30pm – 12am

More information available here.


Eat Poo Love 

By: Paul Clement, Evan Mackay, Dan Mackay Cast: Dan Mackay, Evan Mackay, Paul Clement

Paul Clement survived Stage 2 Colon Cancer and went on to blog about it (selected blogs available here), and eventually co-wrote a stage version of the blog which will be performed at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival as “Eat, Poo, Love”.  He recently appeared on the RogersTV program ‘daytime Peel’ to discuss his journey through the illness, and his fundraising work with Colon Cancer Canada.

Event Details:

You’re going to stick that WHERE?! When a demon knocks on Paul’s back door, his life takes a turn for the absurd as he is forced to greet the medical community ass-first. Surrendering his dignity in a series of ridiculous situations, Paul ponders what can’t be resolved by a clean bill of health. This true story is full of shit.

Purchase Tickets Here.


Randolph Theatre / Annex Theatre 736 Bathurst St.

July 06 05:15 PM July 07 07:30 PM July 10 09:00 PM July 11 12:00 PM July 12 11:00 PM July 14 05:45 PM July 15 01:45 PM

We’re exceptionally pleased that The Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival and its patrons continue to support patient storytelling.  Our thanks.

Father’s Day Special

I’m reminded of the time my father came to visit me in the hospital after my second bowel resection.

He entered the room in earlier afternoon, walking at a measured pace with his cane, neatly dressed in a suit, winter overcoat and fedora. Ignoring my mother’s exhortations that a man of 91 and such short stature shouldn’t be travelling by public transit on a wintery day, he navigated the system to come and sit by my side.

He related in extreme detail, and with great pride I might add, how he walked to the bus stop, got on the bus and leisurely rode the 35 minutes to the subway. He described all of the new buildings he had noticed along the way and admired the courage of the developers and the creativity of the architects. Getting off the bus, he transferred to the subway, agilely maneuvering down the long escalators leading to the cavernous stations. “I took my time” he cautioned, when my eyes opened wide with the image of his aching, arthritic knees adjusting to the many steps. Once off the subway his chest puffed up as he was able to breathe the cold fresh March air and coast the rest of the way by foot to the hospital.

That was pretty much the dialogue that day. I was 2 days out of surgery, still deeply under morphine influence, aching gut, and not up for company. It didn’t matter to him that I wasn’t very hospitable or communicative. He wanted to be there with his son. That was all that mattered and the conversation wasn’t that important.

For the next 3 days he repeated the trip, same suit, same hat. Same conversation.

My father’s sense of duty is an example of how the illness experience can be interpreted by a parent witnessing the illness of a child, regardless of their age (I was 49 at the time). It starts with the first sniffle as a baby.

This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day and the relationship of parents and children challenged with an illness. There’s Aza Raskin’s lyrical memory of his late father Jef Raskin, inventor of the Mac, and Pulitzer Prize winner Buzz Bissinger’s brutally honest memoir of his road trip with brain damaged son Zach. Unlike the conversations I had with my dad that week over 12 years ago, not one of these stories is the same.

Feel free to add your story to theirs.

World IBD Day for the week

Its World IBD Day today so since it’s Saturday and every living creature with an appetite is out hunting down new prey, I’m going to celebrate the day for the whole week.

I’m biased, of course. I’ve been living with Crohn’s disease for over 31 years. It’s one of the family of nasty Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, (yes, Bowel diseases) that includes Ulcerative Colitis, but does not include IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (more on that in another post).

Since its such a gross topic (bowel disease, you can only imagine) I’ll skip the details of my experience and go straight to highlighting those individuals who have shared with us some remarkable stories. You’ll see the index below to get you started and every day this week you’ll see some of these stories and individuals highlighted on our home page.

Trust me. It takes a little bit of courage to talk about your toilet habits in public. It can be funny, but these folks aren’t getting paid to entertain a crowd at a comedy club. What they are doing is breaking down the stigma attached to these illnesses, and in so doing, are changing the world one story at a time.

Bravo to these articulate souls. We’ve got award winning author Jon Reiner, mountain climber Rob Hill, prominent advocate Michele Hepburn, Ben from across the pond in the UK, and many others in writing and video. Feel free to add your story to theirs.


Congratulations Dear 16 Year Old Me

Canadian produced Melanoma video tops the prestigious Webby Awards

The number one patient story of the year, the video “Dear 16 Year Old Me” has set a new standard of storytelling by winning 2 Webby Awards, the leading international awards honouring excellence on the Internet.

The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund production, “Dear 16 Year Old Me”, won for Best Online Video – Public Service and Activism, and for Best Copywriting. It has been seen almost 7 million times, in 150 countries, and in 5 languages. No other patient story in living memory has come close to this level of global impact.

The video is by melanoma patients who, through reflection, tell their 16 year old self some life lessons that can make an important difference in their lives.

It’s a milestone in the history of healthcare when a patient story, told by real patients, outdraws a Hollywood celebrity doctor. It’s a story that can inform practice, change patient behaviour and improve public health.

This film wasn’t supported with a mass media campaign and major sponsors. It won the hearts of millions with an authentic narrative that engages its viewers with its honesty

“Dear 16 Year Old Me” proves that the stories of real people can change lives. Alongside great Canadian role models – change makers like Terry Fox and Rick Hansen – you’re going to start seeing the name David Cornfield.

David died at 32, a young man with great promise. What he started in life is being fulfilled by his legacy, a film as inspirational and dynamic as he was, with the power to influence the actions of millions of people.

If you haven’t seen this remarkable film, take 5 minutes to see it now and share it with your friends and family. If you have seen it, then watch it again with the knowledge that you’re participating in an historic event.

Zal Press Executive Director

“Valleys”: Successfully Funded on Kickstarter

On with the show!

Our congratulations to Mike Lang (Director) and Amy Aubin (Star) of the soon to launch web documentary “Valleys”.  In the final days of crowd-funding, this dynamic duo managed to raise an impressive $18,000 via Kickstarter.

As the Director of Photography for the Toronto portion of this series I am pleased to know that “Valleys” will be developed as Mike originally intended. It was evident when the trailer was launched last week that Amy’s story was powerful and necessary to share.

We look forward to updating you on “Valleys” as news becomes available.

Here’s a snippet from Amy’s blog – sharing her excitement:

Wow – so Valleys the movie will be happening; in 30 days we managed to raise our goal of $17,000.00 thanks to a lot of people with big hearts!  Mikey said he had never raised this much and well neither had I; this past weekend we had our doubts as we had been stuck at the $5,000.00 mark but today we made it to $17,000.00 so thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has helped in any and every way.  No effort or donation is too small and I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.  Now- we await update#2 where Mikey may come back to Toronto for some filming before we head down to the Grand Canyon to raft 188km’s a journey that seems to in some ways parallel my own […] more here.