5 steps to being your own patient advocate
Impressed by her treatment at Anadolu Medical Center, Cristy Kessler of Hawaii wrote a book which told the story about how patients may take active part in their treatment as associates in doctors’ team.
‘I had two options: to wait to die or to learn to live! I chose to live and that meant to find someone who thought I should be proactive in health care’.
Cristy Kessler of Hawaii has spent a lifetime in battling pain and fatigue, diagnosed in the USA with a multitude of autoimmune diseases – scleroderma (Raynaud’s Phenomenon), ankylosing spondylitis (Bechterew’s disease) and vasculitis, each one of these being fatal.
‘I faced death at the age of 40. I have been searching for answers for years; I was doing research on hospitals without any hope’.
After 16 years of treating symptoms at 11 hospitals in three US states and 2 other countries, Cristy realized that the only way to save her life was to seek ways for managing diseases, not only coping with symptoms.
In February 2011 Cristy was admitted at Anadolu Medical Center for a life-saving transplantation of stem cells. With the help of a powerful medical team, headed by Dr. Zafer Gulbas, MD, specialized in hematological oncology, she initiated a treatment which saved her life.
‘I have not doubted of the choice of coming here or of the risk I took. There is nothing to lose when you know you have a chronic, progressive, and deadly condition. You are aware of yourself; you have made sufficient researches to realize that transplantation is your only hope’.
Cristy Kessler tells about a different experience in Anadolu Medical Center.
‘Compared to any other place I have been to, my arrival at the general hospital was somewhat stunning. The first thing that impressed me was the enormous lobby and the soft furniture, provided there to ensure comfort. There were corners with mineral water where you could take some freely, and other facilities for patients’ ease. All of these were things I was not used to. Furthermore, I was impressed by the attitude; Dr. Gulbas took time off to show me and my partner round the transplantation ward and acquaint me with the environment. He did this alone, in person.’
‘I was given the best medical service, which I didn’t even imagine it existed. Care was amazing. We do not speak of medical condition only; doctors were taking care of my body, common sense and spirit. Every year when I arrive at Anadolu Medical Center it feels like coming back home – this is the place that gave me a second chance; this is the place that took me back to life’.
After 2 months’ treatment, 3 years later, Cristy Kessler is alive and healthy, feels well and is happy. She is leading a high-quality healthy lifestyle she had never led before, and is a full-time lecturer at the University of Hawaii.
Making use of her experience as a patient, her survival at Anadolu Medical Center and her talent of teaching, Cristy wrote the book 5 STEPS TO BEING YOUR OWN PATIENT ADVOCATE. The book’s purpose is that the reader should become aware of his own vote as regards their health. This means that patients choose to cooperate with the doctors who treat them.
S – Sensibility – pay attention to what your body wants to tell you, write down and describe symptoms, so that the doctor offers the most adequate care. The most important – do not allow anyone else, even the doctor, to reject your symptoms.
T – Teamwork – take the responsibility to lead the team of doctors to ensure their teamwork. Do not be afraid of changing your doctor, if you want so. Create a supporting team – family, friends, colleagues, who will do what you cannot alone do for yourself.
E – Education – make some research, use the internet wisely, to raise awareness of the symptoms and treatment, and to share the information with your doctors; do not keep secrets about your condition from those who are most important to you.
P – Patience and Perseverance – pose questions, be patient, when needed, and always persisting in achieving your goals to get the best possible treatment.
S – Sustainability – it is our responsibility to maintain your body, mind, and spirits. Sustainability is multiform. Find one thing that will make you happy.