What Health Advocates Can Learn from 9/11

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What Health Advocates Can Learn from 9/11

With the demise of Osama bin Laden, I’m reminded of experiences I can share with patient and health advocates and navigators that will help us do our jobs better. Many readers of this blog know that the reason I do the work I do is because I was diagnosed with a rare, terminal lymphoma in 2004.  Being told I had a terminal disease was heart-stopping and terrifying. Even today there are certain triggers that drum up all that emotion. Post traumatic stress rears its ugly head…. Of course – I don’t wish that for anyone who ever reads this blog!  However… I believe that to truly understand how horrifying such a diagnosis is, you have to live it.  But if you have never lived it, I can give you a metaphor. If you will give this some thought and embrace it, you will become a better advocate, because you will better understand how your client feels. Close your eyes, and think back to 9/11 – and 9/12, 9/13, and those subsequent weeks and months….  Think back to the moment you watched those planes fly into the World Trade Center on TV, heard the news, saw the photos, spoke to a loved one, cried.  Embrace the fear you felt.  Remember that horrible feeling that we in America had lost our innocence, but even worse, any sense of security we had felt our entire lives to that point. We became afraid of doing ordinary things – being in crowds, flying in planes – our everyday lives were disrupted in ways we never could have imagined.  And – we knew we could never go back to the innocence of 9/10.  We had to learn to deal with it. People dealt with these new fears in different ways. Some wouldn’t venture from home. Others couldn’t stop watching TV. Still others just wanted to wrap themselves with family and friends and talk, talk, talk.  Some of us lost people we cared about.  Some moved away from New York or other large cities and returned to their places of birth.  We all re-embraced the concept of…


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