This was in 1973 and I was 19.
So that summer I talked with patients all day long, day in and day out. After I grew up I worked a corporate hospital company in Texas and also an academically based, inner city hospital in Dayton. That's where I really learned what makes these incredible institutions tick. For one report I tagged the Director of Nurses (the DON) on the night shift. We walked down dimmed hallways with a flashlight, checking monitors, answering pages, whispering. I tagged a slightly manic, Napoleon sized ER doc who worked miracles one night extricating an object lodged in a child's trachea. I can still see the X-ray and feel that stop-time moment between life and death. Since then I've written about some of these events, lost both of my parents to cancer, was diagnosed with cancer myself, then walked the same hallways with my husband when he was treated for cancer in 2002 and 2004.
And all these years later I am still talking about health education and advocacy. Same things, different time, different vocabulary, different technology. How different it all is and how familiar it feels.
Next week I'll speak on a panel on "patient empowerment" at a rally sponsored by Cancer Centers of America in Chicago. You need to know more now to successfully navigate the health care system. How do you shake off the fear following a cancer diagnosis and take control of the issues and decisions? We'll talk about that.
What have you learned from your experience as a cancer survivor that you'd like to pass on? Please let me know, there are women out there who need to hear from you.
What are the five things you wish you'd known about cancer treatment when you were diagnosed? Talk to me:)
Have yourselves an awesome weekend,
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About the event:Treatment Environment, Health Literacy May Improve Cancer Outcomes