patient engagement

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My Cancer And Lisa B. Adams’: Don’t Let Anyone Write You Off

By Marie Colantoni Pechet
Guest contributor

For a long time, I lived a fun life with a great job, a handsome husband and beautiful children. I wore fabulous clothes and went to fun parties and trendy restaurants. I exercised and ate healthy foods and had a positive mental attitude, which I believed contributed to my privileged life.

Marie Pechet and family, summer 2013 (courtesy)

Marie Pechet and family, summer 2013 (courtesy)

In that life, illness didn’t happen to me. It didn’t happen to most of my social circle or my family, and, other than the rare accident, death was something that happened only to the generation or two ahead of me. Illness and death were not pretty or fun or any part of that life.

When I had the hubris of the healthy, I would distance myself from the rare friend who became sick. They must have done something that caused it, I might have thought. They were living an unhealthy life or caught some bad karma. Call me when you’re better. I didn’t actively think these things, but I might as well have.

Then it happened to me: In my forties, with two young children, I received a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Despite my best efforts, it is conceivable that I did something to cause it, lived in some unhealthy way or had bad karma. For whatever reason, I am where I am.

I recently read some of the articles on the Lisa Bonchek Adams controversy. In case you missed it, Lisa has been busy on social media documenting her life with stage 4 cancer.  On Jan. 12, in a, frankly, tone-deaf opinion piece, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller triggered a web firestorm by suggesting that Lisa is not appropriately facing her own imminent death. (Keller’s wife, writer Emma Gilbey Keller, also wrote a piece that offended Lisa’s followers; the article, published in The Guardian, was subsequently pulled from the publication’s website, according to reports. The WBUR/NPR show On Point is discussing the controversy today here.)

Like Lisa, I am a mother. I am dealing with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. I have been at this for six years. I am lucky enough to have the support of family and friends. And I blog.

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 10.30.58 AMLike many writers, I find the process of writing therapeutic. It helps me to sort out my experiences and emotions. It helps me to connect with others in what can definitely be an isolating process. And sometimes, it seems to help others.

Through my blog, I’ve met amazing people, many of whom are also cancer patients. Most of them blog as well, Continue reading

10 Ways Health Care Providers Can Stop Driving Patients Crazy

Perhaps waiting rooms should learn from fast-food joints. (Fotopedia.com)

Okay, I took some liberties with that headline. The real title of Dan Munro’s excellently trenchant blog post on Forbes.com is “10 Ways That Healthcare Can Engage Consumers.”

But the more I read and cheered, the more his suggestions struck me as ways that hospitals and doctors can not so much engage us as make us feel at least a little less alienated and appalled by our health care system.

His policy point: “You can’t complain about a lack of consumer engagement in healthcare until you start treating us like something other than a means to your lucrative end.”

And his suggestions range from kinder collection practices to nixing the erectile dysfunction ads on television. A couple of my favorites:

I’m not looking for a day-spa, feng-shui or zen-like experience with your waiting room. In fact, my real preference is not to sit or touch anything. Take a cue from In-And-Out Burger – we really do love that concept as it applies to healthcare waiting and exams.

Continue reading