When I was asked to be a patient advocate by my father’s doctor, Mo, I was overwhelmed with many emotions. My father Jim, passed away from Melanoma back in March of 2011.
My initial thought was why choose me, as I did not personally battle cancer, I know nothing of medicine or the kinds of decisions that doctors have to make each day. But Dr. Mo encouraged me.
And over dinner said something I will never forget. “Do not overthink this, get out of your own head and simply be engaged in the moment”. That was in response to me asking what is my main responsibility when being a patient advocate. He has encouraged me to listen, and ask questions that challenge others, no matter where they might be in their profession.
It was made clear to me that I have a unique perspective of watching someone very close to me fight this disease and lose their life doing so. So if I can even just once, represent the families of the patients that struggle understand their loved one’s options, or have to make the tough call when the person dealing with cancer cannot, then maybe I can play even a small role in helping others beat this horrible disease.
I am honored to be a part of such an amazing movement that is taking place at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the U of I Hospital.