Dr. Wendy Harpham is a doctor of internal medicine, cancer survivor, and award-winning and best-selling author of books about cancer: Healthy Survivorship, recovery and late effects, and raising children when a parent has cancer. She is also a public speaker, patient advocate, and mother of three.
Here are more reflections on the December 11th NYTimes article about the 11th-hour rescue of a dying 6-year-old girl with an investigational treatment. I hope you find them useful in the pursuit of Healthy Survivorship.
We are not born knowing how to become Healthy Survivors. We aren't taught in school how to get good care and live as fully as possible when living with, through and beyond cancer or other serious illness. I wish we were.
Healthy Survivors make wise choices in all spheres of life. This includes the legal side of things. What do you do if your insurer declines your legitimate claims? If your employer demotes or fires you without cause? What about estate planning?
Over the years, I've heard testimony by survivors about the devastation that followed denial of their rights. While dealing with their illness, they lost their job, insurance and/or homes. What can they do?
Years ago, a young man was diagnosed with an aggressive but very treatable cancer. Suddenly quite ill, the drama of his illness was great. Friends and family rallied round, keeping him company 24/7 at the hospital. Meanwhile, an opened letter sat on his desk:
Yesterday I addressed the issue of availability of antibiotics (without a prescription) on the Internet contributing to the problem of antibiotic-resistant germs. Kairol Rosenthal commented that some patients may be ordering from these Internet sites because they are financially strapped (and not because they are stupidly preferring to self-prescribe instead of follow a doctor's orders).
If Healthy Survivors can't afford their prescriptions, they seek out resources that might be able to help.