After Dr. Snehal Smart finished her medical degree, she realized she enjoyed explaining diseases to patients and families more than the clinical work of diagnosis and treatment.
She learned about the immense benefits that patient advocacy provides to patients. Joining the Pleural Mesothelioma Center gave her the opportunity to guide patients through their medical care.
“Patient advocates help people with cancer understand their disease, explore their treatment options, and find the right doctor to get a second opinion,” she said. “Advocates also know which resources patients can draw on to cover the high costs of receiving treatment for a rare cancer.”
Personal and Professional Experience
Smart uses her medical school experience to guide patients on what questions they should ask their doctor. She translates complex medical terminology into simpler terms for patients.
Because she focuses specifically on mesothelioma, she often knows more about this rare cancer than patients’ local oncologists. She can refer patients to top mesothelioma specialists and help patients search for clinical trials that are currently recruiting.
In Smart’s personal life, she had a loved one in a different country who was affected by a rare form of cancer.
Though Smart lived a great distance away, her loved one was still relieved when she could review his medical records. Over the phone, she advised him on the pros and cons of his treatment options.
“Because I helped him understand his diagnosis and treatment plan, he felt in control of the situation. I made sure he asked the right questions, so he was confident knowing his doctors had a plan of action that was best for him,” Smart said.
Through her time at the Pleural Mesothelioma Center, Smart has come to learn the common questions and fears people have when facing this disease.
“The biggest source of anxiety for mesothelioma patients comes from not being able to decipher their own test results.”
Patients and family members also often become confused by misleading information they find online. But once Smart is able to explain what their medical reports actually mean, patients feel much better.
“I really enjoy what I do, and I know I’ve made a difference when patients share their kind words with me about how I’ve helped them,” she said.