Passport Stamped for the Land of Pain: Learning to Live in a Foreign Land

Janice Lynch Schuster

The following post originally ran on the Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy’s (PAINS) website.

For many years, my passport was stamped in the land of the well, but a poor response to oral surgery in 2013 cancelled that document, leaving me in the land of the sick, the suffering, the other. While I was a well-one, I’d hear stories from that other country—and listen as best I could when others told tales of their visits– but I did not know what it truly meant to live there all the time.

Learning to live in another country is hard work. There are unfamiliar customs to understand, a language to learn, awkward situations, foods and beds and places that do not quite feel like home. The currency may not convert.

Once you become a chronic pain patient, as I have, you discover how much of your life is no longer your own. (more…)

Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse: Are You Doing Your Part?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Do you know what your teen is up to when you’re not looking?  What about your spouse, your parents and your friends?  Hopefully they aren’t rummaging through your medicine cabinet to find something they can take to get high. Many of us would never think to use a prescription drug for something other than its intended purpose, or to take something that wasn’t prescribed for us and absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of other people who not only consider this, but act on the impulse to misuse and abuse prescription drugs.  Sometimes they work the system and see a doctor, or multiple doctors, and get the prescription for themselves, but often, they are looking through your medicine cabinet when you’re in the other room, getting them for free from friends or buying them online or from dealers.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem; according to the Centers for Disease Control it is an epidemic.  Just like any addiction, it can ultimately ruin or even end someone’s life.  (more…)

Consumer Centricity: Changing what we know about Health Care

Cyndy Nayer

Consumer Centricity is about to change everything we know about health care. It is creating a health investment community where transparency is king and social exchange reinforces value.

This is the rise of the consumer health investment marketplace. Technology is improving the conversations and exchange of data—social media (providing peer-to-peer information and counseling), quantifying technology (providing measures of health to the person without the need for clinical reporting), and financial advice (tune in to some of the social media pages for patient and cost advocacy). We are witnessing the handoff of health care control to the consumer who does, in fact, have a bigger financial stake than ever before, but who also can leverage data for answers to personal questions and priorities.

At last the consumer is developing a voice in health care, identifying the priorities of lifelong health that he or she values. There are 4 reasons that consumers are building noise on their preference in health care:

  1. Enormous increases in consumer-driven health plans with high deductibles. (more…)


Breast Cancer Prevention: My “Mommy Musts”

Amber Coleman-MortleyI spend a large portion of my time caring for, looking after, and maintaining the health and wellbeing of others.  Amidst all of the scheduling of my work life and the kids’ respective social lives, the hours of my day quickly evaporate into vague memories of daily routine. Not once do I stop and think about myself, my health and often my own needs.  And why should I?  Like all “good” mothers, my needs come second to theirs.

Recently, my child randomly said to me, “Mom I can’t imagine our life without you”. That gave me pause.  I thought about it and felt the same. Who would do the cooking, the cleaning and all the neurotic yelling about clothes and toys on the floor? That sentence made me think of my mortality in a deeper way. To these little people, I mean something.  Do I respect that?

This moment took me back to when my own mother informed me (a young adult at the time) that she had found a lump and was going in to get it checked.  (more…)

The Art of Survivoring

janeblackA week from today I will be the keynote presenter at the “Ladies Night Out – Give Cancer the Boot” annual gala for the Springfield Regional Cancer Center (SRCC).  I am flattered and daunted by this opportunity to share my thoughts with an audience of 400 patients, survivors and their champions.  The date of the event falls on the 6th anniversary of my mastectomy – how fortunate I am to celebrate with kindred spirits!

I will open with this claim:  The richest and most profound experiences happen when what we believe to be real and true about ourselves is turned upside down.  (If you’ve seen Brene Brown’s TED talks you know that this is a precious part of the transition process.)

Then I will chime in about my driving force – to attract and to radiate positive energy.  Period.  This is my metric for success. (more…)



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