Why I am a patient advocate

Why I am a patient advocate

Margie GanderJan 22, '19


I am a patient advocate. I believe that we need to democratize health, wellness, and science. I believe that we all have the right to access, and own our medical data. I also believe that biohacking and personalisation in healthcare will be the silver bullet that we've been looking for to turn the tide on lifestyle-related, chronic disease. 

If you're like I used to be, then you may wait to get really sick before placing value on your health. Or you may still hold your grandparents' view that you NEVER question your doctor. Perhaps you reside on the other end of the spectrum, willing to try all the latest (and not-so-well researched) health trends. Wherever you sit, we all should be able to agree on some fundamental truths.

Let's start with what we believe to be true: 

  1. Your DNA is yours
  2. Your biochemistry is yours
  3. Your health is yours
  4. Information is power
  5. You can’t 'unknow' what you know
  6. You are unique and therefore need personalised choices
  7. Your choices are your responsibility, along with the consequences
So, when it comes to wellness and healthcare, how many of us can say that we have experienced the above in reality? And whose fault is it if we haven't?

A recent conversation with a client about her experience with a doctor made me angry. It made me realise how much further we need to go when it comes to health. Where did this idea come from that "we, the patient" won't understand the medical terms, or that we should not be told "too much" information? It's up to us to push back, find our voice, do our own research, find professionals that we can work with and take charge of the consultation that we are paying for. If you don't experience the above '7 truths', find a new doctor. 

Have you ever been mocked for checking out health terms on google? Have you ever struggled to get a copy of your lab report? Many healthcare practitioners are wrong to mock ‘Dr Google’. They should rather point you in the right direction to reputable sites like PubMed or TED for more information. A client that comes in with well-researched questions should be embraced and encouraged. 

In my own health journey away from estrogen-positive, ovarian cancer towards optimal health; I have been fortunate to have the support of some incredible Functional Medicine practitioners. I found that their approach made me feel like I could be in control again instead of being paralysed by an unexpected diagnosis. With their support, I looked deeper into my DNA and biochemistry together with my past health choices; and I began to realise that it was only a matter of time before my health gave away to a chronic disease. It was this realization that drives me every day to make nutrition, environment and lifestyle choices to support my unique genotype and biochemistry. It's the access to this information that keeps me committed. 

And that is why I am passionate about direct to consumer DNA and biochemistry testing. I believe that something magical happens when someone orders their own DNA and/or biochemistry tests online, does the test at home and starts interrogating their own medical data. That magic is ownership of their health. 

To get an idea of where we are heading, watch this snippet from the Biohackers Summit in Canada last year.

Stand in the center of your wellness circle. Drive the process because you have to live every day with the consequences. 

Live in the know.


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