Through the Eyes of an Advocate

Evidence-based healthcare, considered to be the best healthcare in the world, is a premise that many believe has become the norm in the United States. However, there are several reasons why this is not always the case. For example, one traditional standard is the empirical approach of teaching in the medical profession, “see one, do one, teach one,” which is not necessarily based on current best evidence. This method may have been the best available in the past, but as research and medicine are moving more quickly than ever before, healthcare providers need additional tools to keep abreast of advances founded on evidence-based research.
Recently, the American College of Physicians (ACP) released a statement on its website with the headline “American College of Physicians recommends against screening pelvic examination in adult, asymptomatic, average risk, non-pregnant women.”
When the fourth Illumina Discovery Symposium was presented in San Diego in conjunction with the 2014 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), I was fortunate to be invited to attend. The symposium focused on the progress being made in monitoring cancer through next-generation sequencing technologies. From my perspective as a patient advocate, there were several issues, concerns, and insights presented that caught my attention.
Conferences: What can be said about them? They are absolutely necessary for challenges, progress, and outcomes that will contribute to better evidence-based treatment for patients.
Writing about ovarian cancer this month provided me with the chance to reflect on how things have changed not only in treatment, but also in research over the past several years since I entered the world of medicine as an advocate.
Would I have a chance to be accepted, as I did not technically qualify as a “breast cancer activist,” was the thought that raced through my mind as I viewed the following description on the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) website?
“The doctor will be here in a minute,” the RN said to me and a patient who was in the recovery room. A few days before, I had received a phone call from a friend asking if I was available to accompany this woman, a mutual friend, to the hospital for an outpatient procedure.
True mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help.
I was astonished at the pace at which the medical world functions when I went through my health crisis facing ovarian cancer 6 years ago.

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