Be Your Own Patient Advocate

November 17, 2014 6:57 PM

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At age 12, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine, during a school health screening. My parents and I then met with an orthopedic doctor to determine my course of treatment. After x-rays and an examination, the doctor spoke to my parents providing them with options for my care, one of which included participation in an experimental study using electrical stimulation. As my parents asked questions to gather information for their decision, I felt the need to be a part of the decision, especially if the adults in the room were actually considering electrocuting me! I mean every 12-year-old knows not to put your finger in a light socket! So, I began peppering the doctor with my own questions. Later, my parents and I sat together and discussed the pros and cons of each option until a mutually agreeable, electricity-free decision was made. It was my first experience of being my own health care advocate, and I learned the importance of conducting research, including asking questions, and going with your intuition.

I was stricken with papillary thyroid cancer at age 37. It was in the aftermath of my cancer treatment that I learned another important lesson about advocating for myself. I began to experience heart palpitations, a fast pulse, and anxiety - all signs of hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, my primary ca...

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