Why It’s Important to Be a Well-Educated, Proactive Patient

Jamie Cesanek

Patients with cancer can advocate for themselves by researching their illnesses and treatments before an appointment, so they’re able to ask better questions, says an expert from the HealthTree Foundation & Myeloma Crowd.

Patients with cancer often look for ways to empower themselves as they navigate the uncertainty of their cancer journey. According to Jenny Ahlstrom, who lives with multiple myeloma, one way to feel more empowered is to educate yourself on your disease as much as possible.

In an interview with CURE®, Ahlstrom, who launched the HealthTree Foundation and Myeloma Crowd, explained how doing proper research on your cancer type can lead to better outcomes.

“I feel like the work I've done has helped me and brought me a lot of joy in service of other patients,” Ahlstrom said. “But it's also empowered other people to ask better questions... You’re getting better outcomes when you educate yourself about your own disease. You will, because you'll ask better questions in your clinic.”

Transcription:

I think the idea that patients can make more of a difference than they've ever thought is a reality. I feel like the work I've done has helped me and brought me a lot of joy in service of other patients. But it's also empowered other people to ask better questions. They’re getting better outcomes.

You’re getting better outcomes when you educate yourself about your own disease. You will, because you'll ask better questions in your clinic. And you won’t ask basics like “What's a light chain” and your doctor has to spend 20 minutes explaining what a light chain is. (You can) go do that elsewhere, so you come into the office prepared, and then you can contribute.

So, I feel like we're inviting all these patients to contribute to a myeloma cure instead of sitting back and waiting for a myeloma cure. And I think patients can do that for any disease.

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