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"The Cellfie Project" comes to IWK

Posted by Department of Pathology on February 22, 2023 in Community

A new program at the IWK Health Centre has been helping young patients and their families better understand leukemia diagnoses and treatments by showing them what is happening in their own bodies at each step of the way.

Called “The Cellfie Project”, Dalhousie Associate Professor and IWK Hematopathology Division Head Dr. David Conrad developed the program to help ease patients during what is often a traumatizing experience.

The name comes from a play on the term “selfie” – a photograph taken of oneself – by showing the patient images of their own healthy cells and leukemia cells, and how they change over time from diagnosis to treatment to remission.

Each patient into the Cellfie Project lab becomes an honourary pathologist, lab coat and all, as they meet the diagnostic team which played a part in their diagnosis. Their microscopic pictures aren’t just shown to them at the IWK; each patient is given a copy on a USB stick to take home.

“[I]t can be very difficult to process the details of such a diagnosis,” Dr. Conrad tells Your IWK. “Some of the patients have shown their pictures to their classmates when they returned to school… I think there is an element of empowerment gained by learning about the diagnosis.”

More about The Cellfie Project can be found on Your IWK.