The three P’s.

I am a person first. Patient second. Participant third.

Person is my birthright. Inalienable. Not open to argument. Irrevocable until the moment I die.

For many years patient was a temporary or transitory state of being. As in, today I wore blue. Or, on Thursday I made mashed potatoes for dinner.

That all changed in April of 2005, when I first learned that I had lung cancer. From that moment forward I have been a patient.

Just as I shall be a person until I pass, so too shall I remain a patient. When I enrolled in my first clinical trial in October of 2008, I added the third P: participant.

Participant as a state of being comes and goes. However, with more than a decade spent in clinical trials, it too is almost a constant. Not a birthright, also not a given. A privilege. And a burden.

A participant is a different sort of nuance than person or patient. De-identified, if you will. Valued not as an individual, but rather as an aggregate. A data point.

However, you can be a person but not a patient or a participant. Or a person who is a patient but not a participant. But if you are a participant, you are still a person and in most cases, a patient as well.

These distinctions are not mere wordplay. When I make a statement to the effect that I am more than my tissue, I am a human being–this is what I am referencing.

Person first. Person always.

3 responses to “The three P’s.

  1. So very important. It is so easy to lose that personhood and what makes us individually important while participating as a forever patient. Thank you.

  2. Dear Linnea, thank you for sharing your personal experience. It is so important for healthcare stakeholders to be aware of the patient perspective. Would you be willing to share your clinical trial experience(s) with our study teams at Bayer? It would be immensely valuable. Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

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