How to be your own health advocate

What if you felt like your body was falling apart yet your loved ones and doctors said it was all in your head?  What if you felt sick every day and you couldn’t get the help you need?

What would you do?

This was me.  I speak from both sides of the fence as both a Patient and a Nurse and this gives me a unique and interesting perspective.  I created my business as a Patient Advocate and Health Coach so that I can help other people who are falling through the cracks of our health care system, just like I did.

All my life I wanted to be a nurse and I became one.  I got a job, got married; life was good – until it wasn’t.  In 2004 my life pretty much imploded and over the next five years I lost my health, my career and my ten year marriage.  I lost all the things that society stereotypically deems important.

But I got back more than I ever thought possible.

You could say that I’ve learned a few things along the way.  I’ve learned strategies, tools and insider secrets that helped me learn how to be my own advocate.  I will pass some of these on to you so that you or your loved one can achieve great health, because that ultimately, is everything.

Adopt an advocate attitude

Be your own cheerleader and embrace your inner warrior.  Get some fire in your belly and be assertive.  You need to fight for your right to great health.  Stop worrying and feeling sorry for yourself, it will only hold you back.  I completely understand what it’s like to feel stuck in a rut and you are the one who can pull yourself out.  Trust that you are worth it.

Know your story

Write it down and get organized, gather the puzzle pieces together.  Learn how to listen to your body and track symptoms.  Write your medical history as well as your family’s medical history.  If this feels overwhelming to you take it one step at a time.  This is an essential part of the process and ultimately key in solving my own medical mystery.  It was also helpful on the down days when I was filled with self doubt and wondered if my doctors and loved ones were possibly right, that it really was all in my head.  I could review my documents and it helped me realize that this was not an imaginary illness.  It helped me keep going when I felt there was nowhere left to go.

Be a detective

Look for clues and trust your instincts.  Keep your ear to the ground and look for who and where you can turn to for help.  Pay attention to the doctor’s secretaries, they are the gatekeepers.  Take care in conducting your own research so as not to scare yourself silly looking up things on the internet.

Don’t be afraid to fire your doctor

Get as many opinions as you need until you are better.  Bottom line, keep going and move forward

Rally the troops

Like the saying, it takes a village so gather a group of the most awesome support around you.  Accept that not everyone will understand and practice the art of forgiveness.  There is so much power in forgiveness.  Reduce the impact of negative people and negative energy. Have people in your life that believe you and believe in you.  Ask for help and allow yourself to receive it.  Make it your mission to focus on the positive.

Know your worth, love yourself.  Believe you deserve great health.

Hold onto hope. Things really do get better.


Cecile Gough, RN, Patient Advocate and Health Coach

Thursday Night Lecture topic on March 13, 2014