Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Health Care Evolves with Information Age

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Health Care Evolves with Information Age

Article excerpt

Cancer. Six letters that evoke fear in almost everyone. We call it the c-word, among other things, but nothing makes it easier to confront.

I was recently diagnosed with cancer. That c-word never entered my family's health vocabulary. We were known for strokes and heart attacks, but never for cancer. My husband and I were in Vienna celebrating an anniversary when I received a text message from my gynecologist, whom I had seen two weeks before and had some routine testing and biopsies done. The message read, "Hello, this is Dr. Johnson. It is really urgent that 1 speak with you." I called and had the c-diagnosis within 30 minutes.

I knew little about the extent or spread of my cancer, or the aggressiveness. Neither did my gynecologist, except to note that it was a moderately aggressive form of the disease based on the scan of cell slides he reviewed. What happened subsequently, however, made me reflect on the speed of change in health care.

Despite a relatively devastating diagnosis, I could easily research the type of cancer I had, what the prognosis might be, and what my treatment options were. How easy it is today to find the information we need, limited only by how quickly we type queries into an Internet search. Even ten years ago, this information might not have been as readily accessible.

Research in hand, I met with the surgeon, who shared photos from the Internet about where my cancer was located and what treatment options were. He assured me that information about cancer treatment was updated daily on the Internet from the National Institutes of Health and other sources so that the most up-to-date treatment options were immediately and widely available. Again, I had to reflect on the speed of change regarding how information is relayed.

Today, most of us work with our physicians and other clinicians armed with research that can help us better understand our prognosis and have a more informed dialogue.

We have come a long way from even two decades ago when we may have more or less blindly accepted diagnoses without having the ability to access (quickly) the necessary information to question what we were being told.

Based on research - both from the Internet and scholarly sources, as well as from speaking with the many clinicians with whom I work - I was able to make an informed decision for an aggressive (some say radical) procedure that I am confident was the right decision. …

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