Laughter really is the best medicine. At least that’s a lesson that recently diagnosed brain cancer patient Salvatore Iaconesi learned when he hacked his medical records and turned them into a public forum.

Like many cancer patients, Salvatore felt frustrated with turning from a person into a chart — a largely unintelligible and inaccessible chart, at that.

Fueled by that frustration he hacked open his medical records and then published them on line.

The result?

A crowdsourcing diagnosis platform that has included more than 60 neurologists, neurosurgeons and radiologists collaborating virtually on his case as well as artists who have, quite frankly, had a little fun at Salvatore’s expense.

“There is this wonderful American artist, Patrick Lichty, who built a sculpture of my brain and tumor in Second Life. I have printed out a picture of my tumor, and I look at it and speak to it. It’s like a meditation with your cancer, so you are not that afraid anymore. Science talks about the fact that laughing, being unafraid, being positive, being social, is good for your immune system, your psychology.”

Which all leads to the question…is there such a thing as an “overly informed patient?” Medical professionals have a love/hate relationship with the Inter-webs. There’s a fine line between a well-informed and an over-informed-out-of-context-no-medical training patient.

Add to that the emotional turmoil of say, HAVING JUST BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH BRAIN CANCER, and you have a recipe for either disaster, or genius.

In the case of Salvatore, perhaps his efforts in crowdsourcing a cure for his own brain cancer may bring that line more into focus so that both patients and doctors can find the genius – and even perhaps the humor – in cancer.

“I have been able to become an expert in neurosurgery and neurology,” Salvatore told New Scientist. “Through this kind of complete openness, I could access thousands of people who have provided me with their knowledge, their skills, their testimonies, their life experiences.”



[Read the entire interview with Salvatore Iaconesi]