An oncologist tackles tough topics with flair.
Anyone scrolling through the social media feeds of Don Dizon, MD, would have two takeaways: he’s a compassionate, thoughtful oncologist; and he’s got style.
The professor of medicine and of surgery records short videos of himself tying a bow tie or modeling a showstopping suit, while narrating an anecdote about patient autonomy or clinical trials, or the language physicians use when talking to and about their patients.
“It’s very me,” he says. “I like telling stories. But I also like fashion.”
Dizon joined Twitter in 2012 when he became a committee chair at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and quickly discovered the platform’s networking potential. But he also felt a responsibility, as a medical professional, to combat misinformation—years before the COVID pandemic.
“You can reach people almost on an individual basis, and help change minds about their own health,” Dizon says.
Twitter’s character limit has helped him be more precise and concise when talking to patients. “If I thought your cancer progressed, I could wax poetic for hours,” he says. “Or I could just say … it’s gotten worse.”
Feedback on social media also persuaded him to change his title. After Dizon wrote about a trans male patient with ovarian cancer, a reader suggested that calling himself a gynecologic oncologist was limiting. “I never really thought about that,” Dizon admits.
He’s now the director of pelvic malignancies at the Lifespan Cancer Institute. When some objected that the title defeminizes his field, Dizon pushed back: “We detract from no one by being more inclusive.”
SNAPSTREAK IS ENDING
Dizon’s 20-year-old daughter was big into Snapchat in high school, so he tried it too. “I never got the hang of it, never understood it, and still don’t understand it,” he laughs.
As vice chair for diversity, equity, inclusion, and professional integrity at SWOG Cancer Research Network, Dizon is working to broaden its membership, leadership, and clinical trial participation. “It’s a big job,” he says.
When trolls target health care workers on social media, “it’s easier to call out these baseless attacks on things like TikTok, where you can make a response video, [than]on Twitter,” Dizon says.
POP SOME TAGS
Dizon says his 14-year-old twins got him into thrifting. “If there’s anything I want people to take away, it’s that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on your sense of style.”
WHO ARE YOU WEARING?
Suit from YesStyle; scarf by Armani; shirt by Postmarc; shoes from eBay; glasses by Cleo Nicci; watch by Tsikolia.