Get a second opinion: Emotion kicks in immediately when you get a potentially dire diagnosis, and many people don’t bother getting a second or third opinion. They consider that denial, or wishful thinking. Doctors are human; they make mistakes. Even if the diagnosis doesn’t change, another physician may suggest a different course of treatment. Try to arrange a visit with a specialist at a nationally renowned research hospital.
Empower yourself with knowledge: The Internet is filled with good information, but the trick for research is avoiding the sea of misinformation online. There are many studies from various universities to be found, and some sites, including WebMD.com, are reliable sources.
Allow for a wake-up call response: For many, knowledge of a difficult medical condition is a reminder to finally implement a healthier lifestyle. Some patients turn around their lifestyle completely with regular exercise, a balanced diet with nutrition as the primary focus, and restricting or completely abstaining from alcohol and cigarettes. This can have amazing results.
Think positive and focus on what matters: At some point we all must face that we are mortal beings with limited resources. Sometimes a good attitude is the best, if not only, weapon for facing terminal illness or a lifelong disability. Taking stock of what’s important, such as loved ones, offers a positive X factor that science has difficulty measuring, but we know has a tangible health benefit nonetheless.
J. THOMAS SHAW wrote The RX Factor in consultation with Johnny Powers, a biochemical engineer with extensive experience in developing diagnostic tests. Shaw started writing novels after a career in the mortgage industry; he was the cofounder of Guaranteed Rate Inc., the largest independent mortgage bank in the country. He lives in Southern California with his wife and two children.