Paths to Healing:
There is an awareness that patients come to hospitals as a whole
person and that they bring with them not only their beliefs and
customs that are culturally related, but also their social and
U-M's multicultural health initiatives foster understanding to help patients get the care they need
-Gloria Edwards, director of Multicultural Health
Darrin Patterson was 17 when his left hand started to hurt. A lump swelled
over his wrist, and his mom called for a doctor's appointment. It looked like a simple cyst. But a week later,
a biopsy revealed the cause of his pain to be synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the soft tissue
After hearing the news, Patterson prayed. He felt a sense of peace settle over him. And then one day
while he was waiting to meet with doctors at the University of Michigan Taubman Health Center for
a second opinion, his grandmother made a suggestion.
"'If you really believe God has healed you,' she said, 'I wouldn't get anything. I wouldn't get chemo,
I wouldn't get radiation, I wouldn't get anything,'" Patterson recalled. "And I said to her, 'You know, you're
right.' And from that moment on, I didn't get anything."
Patterson put his faith in God and waited to be cured. But 15 years later, the lump remained, and the pain still nagged. Now a
husband and father -- and an employee in the University of Michigan
Comprehensive Cancer Center's main infusion area -- Patterson
decided to consider treatment.
Three surgeries and two years later, Patterson is cancer free.
For some, like Patterson, the first step to getting the cancer
treatment they need is reconciling conflicting religious or cultural
beliefs. As medical care has evolved, doctors and other health-care
practitioners have learned that being sensitive to these beliefs is key
to providing quality care.
"There is an awareness that patients come to hospitals as a
whole person and that they bring with them not only their beliefs
and customs that are culturally related, but also their social and
religious backgrounds," said Gloria Edwards, director of Multicultural
Health at the U-M Health System. "We try to look at our
patients as whole people. That's what culturally competent care is
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