ou are sitting in a doctor's office, emergency
room, or specialist's exam room. Hopefully,
you have a loved one by your side to support
you, because in the next moments the words you
hear from the doctor will change your life forever.
"Mr./Ms. Smith, I am sorry to tell you that your test
results show you have ______." The obvious choice
of someone to help you get through this critical
time is the doctor sitting across from you. That
may or may not be correct--although in the short
term (not knowing any more than you do) they are
certainly in an advantageous position to help you.
However, how much of that advice you take in the
short- and long-term may determine your future
longevity and/or quality of life. Are you willing to
gamble that you are lucky enough to have found
just the right doctor, specialist, or surgeon without
further investigation and a qualified second
opinion? Sadly, many people do.
In fact, there are patients who have trusted that
advice blindly and paid the ultimate price...
including my own husband. When Gordon was
diagnosed in May 2004, we were at a university
teaching hospital close to our home--one of the
top rated hospitals in the country overall. After
five months of ineffective standard treatment for
Gordon's rare and aggressive multiple myeloma, his
cancer was three times WORSE than when he was
diagnosed. The oncologist we had trusted called
and said, "Gordon's cancer is not acting the way it
should." Thankfully, that was the wake-up call we
A Monthly Healthcare Advocacy Editorial by Joni
Aldrich, Christopher Jerry, and Graham Whiteside