Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011 – It Pays to Shop Around

Here’s an eye-opening statistic: “Most Americans will spend more time comparison-shopping for flat screen TVs than searching for the best doctor possible.”

Kairol Rosenthal, an author who cites this statistic, is a cancer survivor who proudly tells of how she works the system:

“I approach the challenges of the system as if I’m on a personal vendetta. I crush the system like a superhero who has grown a hundred times my size. I sleep at night knowing I have done everything within my power to influence my outcomes. This is my definition of well-being.”

That’s beyond proactive.

Not everyone would put it so zealously, but she’s got a point about the importance of getting second opinions. We don’t survive cancer by just sitting back and waiting for medical professionals to do things for us. We’ve got to question, to research, to learn. We’ve got to insist that our doctors give us the time and information we need to make informed decisions. We’ve got to learn the art of negotiating with insurance companies. We’ve got to keep track of those test results and make sure they get forwarded to the proper specialists. We’ve got to become our own best advocate.

I’ve been fortunate, that way. I feel blessed to have the sorts of doctors who give me far more than the time of day, and aren’t put off by talk of second opinions. But that doesn’t mean I can slack off on my homework.

There is an alternative, of course. We could just sit home and watch that flat-screen TV.


Joan Calvin said...

I am one of the very fortunate ones. After about 4 months of knowing something was wrong and not getting an answer, I got an answer as I was recovering from thyroid surgery (which my internist--no longer--said would fix the problem with my stomach). The answer: ovarian cancer. The surgeon said he could do the surgery on Monday (this was a Friday evening). He said he did cancer surgery a lot. I said yes. He did the washings of the abdomen, but left all my lymph nodes and my appendix. (Removing these is standard procedure and the cancer cannot be adequately staged without biopsies from those.)

I am now under the care of a gynecological oncologist who is a professor in a nationally recognized medical school and whose practice is part of a national cancer center.

Pretty much everyone assures me that it is highly unlikely that I will have a recurrence. I am grateful, but really wish I had done more research. But I heard the word cancer and wanted it out as soon as possible.

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Carl said...

Glad you all have found this helpful.

A shortcut to doing the research yourself of course, Joan, is making your way to an NCI-accredited regional cancer center, at least for a second opinion. Sounds like you've done that already.

I hear ya when you talk about just wanting to get the blame thing cut out as soon as possible. The truth is, though, there are very few cancers that progress so quickly that you don't have at least a little time to step back and do a little strategizing.

Keep the faith.


Social Weight Loss said...

I prefer to stay in my house and grab some beer and watch some sport or animal discovery.