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Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate


Six months ago one of my online friends fell and crushed the cartilage in her hip. If you don’t know what that means, it’s bone on bone, and she’s in extreme pain. After a bad emergency room diagnosis and weeks of no improvement, her primary care physician ordered an MRI and a bone density test. The results? Her femur’s cracked in two places, and she has torn cartilage.

This kind of injury would have happened even if my friend was 39, but the fact that she’s 59 meant she had to fight to get the care she deserved.

Because of her age, she’s been passed off from one negligent and/or uninterested doctor to another… until a caring Doogie Howser stepped in, gave her a cortisone shot to ease the pain and told her she needed a hip replacement.

This distresses me no end, because it means there are lots of uninterested, quick-to-diagnose doctors out there, talking to women our age. It also means many physicians ARE NOT PREDISPOSED TO HEAR—OR EVEN BE INTERESTED IN—us!

After 10 breast cancer surgeries—two were live-saving surgeries I DEMANDED—and eight rounds of chemotherapy, I know from experience: We must be our own, persistent healthcare advocate, and listen to our little voice. Our life and well-being depends on it.

My friend is nervous about hip surgery… I would be too, but she’s a smart woman so I know she’ll do her homework and find the best surgeon. Her next step will be to get herself physically and mentally ready so she emerges from surgery with the best possible outcome. Boy, do I know how to do that!

If you’re a regular reader then you know I’m a big advocate of self-hypnosis and guided imagery, also self-hypnosis. I’ve done both since 1987. With the help of a highly skilled hypnotherapist, both techniques use guided relaxation and focused attention that can help you with fear, pain, preparing for surgery, cancer treatment, even PTSD. The therapist will make you a tape recording of your session to take with you. I listened to my tapes twice a day before each surgery, chemo, etc.

My doctors were baffled as to why I required less anesthesia—than anticipated—for a seven hour breast cancer surgery, or why I healed in a blink from a total hysterectomy. It was hypnosis and/or guided imagery. Don’t ever underestimate the power of our mind to help us heal ourselves.

Here are two websites that can help you find a National Board Certified Hypnotherapist in your area: and

And what would I do without Belleruth Naperstek, the founding mother of guided imagery? Even if you don’t need surgery and you’re perfectly fine, I’m betting someone you know needs her audios.

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Hi Girlfriends,

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16 thoughts on “Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate”

  1. I love this, Brenda. When I was deciding what to do with my life I got my health advocacy certificate and with my writing combined them to help others. The 9 month course was HARD but so worth it. It’s amazing how little doctors listen to us and how much we need to advocate. The elderly are particularly at risk as they’re often taken advantage of.

    I’d love to try guided meditation/imagery and hypnosis. The older I get my MS gets a little more, ahem, tiresome. I think this would be useful. Any advice is appreciated.

    Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving! Hugs.

  2. We’ve been using guided imagery in our Wednesday night class that started with “Voluntary Simplicity” and has now gone on to “Seeing Systems:Peace, Justice, and Sustainability,” both published by the Northwest Institute in Portland, OR. I find it immediately brings me to a place of calm, my shoulders lowering by about 2 feet! 😉

    I’ve had a lot of health issues over the past decade, and I truly believe we MUST be willing to advocate for ourselves! Doctors are not Gods (even though a few think they are!). My prayers and healing thoughts for your friend.

    • Val,
      I love that you’re using guided imagery and have experienced what I’m talking about. Because of this, you have a better understanding of its power to heal mind and body. It’s the next best thing to prayer.

      • Brenda and Val~

        Brenda, you are so brave and I feel blessed to have heard your emotional sharing at BAM when we first met. What you said resonated and I wanted to hug, the stuffings out of you!

        Val, how fascinating about guided imagery. I’ve been living with MS for almost 30 years and now I try to help others. I should finally try what you’re talking about. I certainly need it and I could write about the experience. Thank you for sharing.

        Brenda, I just love your blog and what you write about. xoxo

  3. This is so good, Brenda. I’m a believer in guided imagery, too. I will check out Belleruth Naperstek. My daughter-in-law survived breast cancer last year and in her search for more than chemo to help her heal she created decals to put on the chemo bags. It was such a hit at the clinic she made more for other patients. Now she has launched a web site for her little invention and it is taking off. I’m so proud of her guts and her generosity I can’t tell you. Check out her site and read her invention story, I think you’ll love it, too.
    Love your blog!

    • Barbara!
      Not only is your daughter-in-law is beautiful, she’s smart and talented. I LOVE what she’s done! You may, or may not know, I had the Top Breast Cancer Blog for a number of years, until two years after James died, and I just couldn’t write about cancer anymore. Reading Marsha’s story about the first time she saw the chemo room… I understand. For all eight of my chemos, in addition to Belleruth Naperstek’s guided imagery audios, I brought all of my Sting videos and watched and sang along with them in the chemo room. I never got sick, or lost my fingernails, or any of the other terrible things the doctors warned might happen to me. Thanks for making me aware of Marsha’s decals. I’m going to do a blog about them. xoxox, Brenda

      • Oh, Brenda, that would be wonderful! She’s so creative and amazing. She is already working on decals for children who have to endure chemo. I’ve contacted some news people here and gotten a bit of response, but I know if you write about it things will happen! Thank you so much!

  4. Thank you Brenda! I do adore you my friend. I am a meditator but haven’t tried guided imagery, and would love to. I am a firm believer in the power our mind has over our body! I also didn’t know there was a course for Healthcare Advocates. I’ve been one for both my parents and brother-in-law, as they battled horrible illnesses. Doing it for myself has been quite different.

    • Jennifer,
      I wrote this at the last minute last night and didn’t have time to ask if you’d mind if I linked it to your blog. Didn’t want to do that without your permission. Let me know, and I’ll amend it. I agree with you that it’s far easier to be someone else’s advocate than our own. We don’t see ourselves from an unbiased position, do we?

  5. Yes, it is so necessary to be our own advocates. A lot of quacks out there. Remember what they call a doctor who graduated last in their class? “Doctor.” I love your use of hypnosis and guided imagery. I’ve used it from time to time for other things and it can be effective. And wow, seven-hour surgery? Blessings to you.

    • Carol,
      Interesting to know you’ve used hypnosis/guided imagery. Was it successful for you? As far as the seven-hour surgery… Like a little 5-year-old friend of mine told me after she had ear surgery, “They gave me amnesia, and I don’t remember a thing!” LOL!

      • I’ve used it in retreat exercises to take me to my own death etc –that wa s my first time. As far as pain relief, never needed it, but I’ve used it for meditation and have mixed results. I have a hard time with monkey mind.

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