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The Engaged Patient: 10 things you can do to take charge of your medical care

Rosemary Black insisted on a CT scan that led to an early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Rosemary Black insisted on a CT scan that led to an early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

The culture of medicine has changed: Gone are the days when doctors dispensed treatment with a paternalistic air. As medicine has advanced, patients have more choices about how they can approach their care. Combined with the vast amount of health information available on the Internet, patients are educating themselves and partnering with their physicians to make informed medical decisions.

Consider Rosemary Ireland Black’s story. She’s a tall, willowy woman, but her stomach suddenly started to bloat. She went to the doctor twice, and he said nothing was wrong. So she went back a third time and demanded a CT scan.

“He said, ‘What for?’” Ireland Black said, recalling her doctor’s skepticism. “And I looked at him and said, ‘Because I want one.’”

The scan revealed a suspicious spot on her pancreas, so her doctor referred her to a surgeon in metro Detroit. During an appointment with the surgeon, Ireland Black’s husband noticed the word “malignant” on one of his wife’s medical reports. Until this moment, the couple hadn’t realized they were dealing with pancreatic cancer.

Read the rest of this story in Thrive, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s patient publication.

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