The Power of the Patient Advocate

The Power of the Patient Advocate

Every life has purpose. Every voice has power. I decided long ago to speak my truth. My advocacy journey has inspired me to share my experiences courageously, and to embrace all that I am. Advocacy is defined as public support for, or recommendation of, a particular cause or policy. Advocacy is designed to influence decisions that impact society and all of the people represented by it. A patient is defined as a person receiving medical treatment. Thus, deductive validity concludes that I am a patient advocate. The purpose of this week’s column is to explain why I believe there is power in accepting, embracing, and avowing my patient status.

Some people take issue with the term “patient.” Many feel that it’s a label and a title they don’t want to display. I have heard some say they just want to blend in. They don’t want to be reminded of illness. People believe that the title of patient detracts from their humanity and their ability to live a normal, judgment-free life. They want to be defined by their character and abilities, not limited by their medical status or reduced to an illness. I understand this perspective.

However, like silence, assimilating was never my option. Congenital heart disease, limited activity, medical notes accompanying me to school, doctor appointments, and open heart surgical scars were impossible to ignore. Just as difficult to disregard were the emotional and psychological distress of such an illness. It took several years, a million tears, and confronting my greatest fears to withstand that. I struggle at times with the effects of illness, but rarely is my struggle an identity crisis. I have multiple sclerosis and heart disease. They will accompany me for the duration of my life or until a cure is found. These illnesses don’t define me, yet, they are significant representatives of my composition. It has all contributed to the person I am proud to call me.

By proclaiming my patient status, I exercise power over my life, and over how I define my disease. Knowing and embracing that I am a patient entitles me to listen, respect, address, and assess my needs. It allows me to reach out and empathize with others sharing the journey. I am the nucleus of my care and my experiences are exclusive, relevant, significant, and valuable. It is not my desire to blend in. I believe I was born to be different. Diamonds are made in the rough, and it was there that I learned to shine. Chronic illness and continuous medical care made me a patient. Today, I choose to stand in that essence. Words can influence and dominate. As a patient advocate, I have the responsibility to transform, not conform. The word patient does not diminish me; it empowers me. My Story (MS) is ever present. Power to the patient.

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson

You are invited to subscribe to my website at www.teresawrightjohnson.com

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Teresa I. Wright-Johnson is a married Multiple Sclerosis Warrior and Congenital Heart Disease Survivor. She was born with a heart murmur and an Aortic Valve Defect. Teresa has endured multiple open heart surgeries and cardiac procedures. She was diagnosed with MS in November of 2014 and is under the care of an esteemed MS Specialist. Teresa knows there is a calling on her life and she fully embraces that. Teresa uses her illnesses as opportunities to further rely on her faith, walk in her truth, raise awareness and educate others. She believes that she is purposely on purpose. Teresa offers a solid background in Criminal Justice and Social Services. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and a retired Sr. Parole Officer for the State of New Jersey, Teresa uses her life to empower and inspire others. She embodies community service, is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc and is active with several other organizations. Teresa aspires to be a light that shines in dark places. Teresa is an author, poet, inspirational speaker and a community activist. She enjoys writing, reading, listening to music and spending time with her family and friends. Teresa acknowledges the unwavering love of her wonderful parents throughout her life and her supportive and loving husband Marvin who is beside her through every trial and triumph.
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Teresa I. Wright-Johnson is a married Multiple Sclerosis Warrior and Congenital Heart Disease Survivor. She was born with a heart murmur and an Aortic Valve Defect. Teresa has endured multiple open heart surgeries and cardiac procedures. She was diagnosed with MS in November of 2014 and is under the care of an esteemed MS Specialist. Teresa knows there is a calling on her life and she fully embraces that. Teresa uses her illnesses as opportunities to further rely on her faith, walk in her truth, raise awareness and educate others. She believes that she is purposely on purpose. Teresa offers a solid background in Criminal Justice and Social Services. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and a retired Sr. Parole Officer for the State of New Jersey, Teresa uses her life to empower and inspire others. She embodies community service, is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc and is active with several other organizations. Teresa aspires to be a light that shines in dark places. Teresa is an author, poet, inspirational speaker and a community activist. She enjoys writing, reading, listening to music and spending time with her family and friends. Teresa acknowledges the unwavering love of her wonderful parents throughout her life and her supportive and loving husband Marvin who is beside her through every trial and triumph.

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