My program that I have created is Patient Advocacy. My program includes Health Science, Psychology and Social Work. I was a nursing major, but I had a medical problem that has affected my short term memory. I felt I wouldn’t be a successful nursing major because of it so I removed myself from the program to save me from wasting both time and money. I created this program because I have cancer and I can’t even explain how much Patient Advocates have helped me through my tough times. Plymouth State University doesn’t offer a major that meets these specificities.
I have wanted to be a nurse ever since I can remember. I have a passion for helping people of all ages. Nurses are the most caring, selfless kind of people out there. I worked my tail off in high school to get into nursing school. I had never been more proud of myself than when I received that acceptance letter. I completed my freshman and sophomore year of college here at Plymouth State University and was so excited that I would be starting clinicals the winter of my junior year. The summer of 2015 turned my life completely upside down. I was working at Meredith Marina as an office assistant and the gas dock girl on the weekends. I had been having constant migraines that would just not go away. I was essentially living off of Excedrin. I would have to leave work early at least twice a week. This went on for about three weeks and then I just couldn’t take the pain any longer. I went to the eye doctor to see if my prescription had changed, causing the migraines. During my exam he noticed that there was fluid behind my eyes. They called my PCP to set up an appointment, but the soonest they had wasn’t for two weeks. In the meantime, I went home. I decided to Google my symptoms. The constant migraines that would get worse at night when I would lay down and the sensitivity to light led me to the description of a brain tumor. I told my family that’s what I had. Of course, they kept saying “Tiffany Lynn, you do not have a brain tumor.”
On August 5th, 2015 I just couldn’t deal with the pain. I went to the emergency room at Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth. I had an MRI and they did in fact see a mass. I was quickly med-flighted to Mass General Hospital in Boston. I was rushed into the ER where they did my first surgery, which I was awake for. Obviously, I was numbed, but I could hear the sawing and drilling of my skull. They inserted an EVD, which is an external drain so that the fluid could drain off of my brain. The doctors said your brain can reach up to a level twenty-five in pressure and I was at a level twenty. They don’t know how I was functioning “normally” with no seizures or passing out. I had three more surgeries following; a biopsy, removal of the tumor and a permanent shunt. A ventriculoperitoneal shunt is placed in the ventricles of my brain that relieves pressure off of my brain by draining the fluid. The shunt runs all the way to my stomach. The biopsy revealed I had Stage IV, Glioblastoma. I spent the entire month of August there. When I came home, I had to go to Dartmouth Hitchcock, Norris Cotton Cancer Center five days a week for radiation and took chemo pills every night. After six weeks, an MRI showed the tumor had grown back as if I hadn’t undergone a single surgery. They had to make a quick decision and decided to put me on IV chemo every two weeks and high dose chemo pills every six weeks. As of the first week of August 2016, they discontinued my treatment plan because my tumor has shrunk 70% and was stable for a constant three MRI’s. I suffer from short term memory loss because of all the surgeries. I decided to not continue with Plymouth State University’s nursing program because of it. I then was faced with, okay, what should I do now? I decided to join Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University to create the perfect program for me.
During my treatments, there was always a patient advocate who would check on me during my appointments. She would ask me how I was feeling, what I was thinking about what I was going through and told me about numerous events that I could attend with fellow cancer patients. She was amazing through my entire experience. Then it clicked, I decided that is what I was meant to do.
I am a caring, kind, selfless person who wants nothing but the best for every single individual. I constantly am wearing a smile on my face, despite everything I have gone through. To become a Patient Advocate, specifically for cancer patients, is now my dream. I have lived it. I know what it’s like. And because of my personal experience, I feel I would be such a great Patient Advocate. Since I have always wanted to be a nurse, this is the next best thing. I will still be working in a hospital, just doing something a little different. And, who knows, maybe someday I will regain my short term memory and will be able to complete nursing school and become an R.N.
Plymouth State University has an abundance of different programs, but not one that fits my program. Sure, there are Health Science majors, but that doesn’t touch upon the aspects on being a compassionate caretaker. My plan is to combine Health Science, Psychology and Social Work courses to complete my Patient Advocacy Program.
I decided to include the following courses for my program. Genetics for Nurses and Disease, Safety and Environment, which I feel go hand in hand with each other. Genetics for Nurses touches upon outcomes of what can happen biologically. Specifically, the roll genetics plays during development and how. For example, when there is extra genetic material from chromosome twenty-one it can cause Down Syndrome. Disease, Safety and Environment, I am currently taking now and we go over many, many different types of diseases, and how you can prevent them. Also, these two classes outline the Social- Ecological Model of Behavior Change. This model has four spheres of influence. It starts with the Environment, specifically policies and places. Then moves into the Culture norms around you. After that, it goes to Inter, which consists of your surrounding peers and social networks. The last part of this model is Intra. Intra is your own personal knowledge, beliefs and skills. Sex and Family Living Education I felt to be a good course to take and include in my program because it went over all of the STD’s. We learned the anatomical structures of the female and male genitalia I feel are very important to know because there are many different kinds of cancers in that area. This course also explains the different social networks of people as well as interpersonal relationships. Human Anatomy and Physiology is so important for my program. We learned all the bones in the body and all the veins and arteries as well. That’s important for my program because when patients describe certain areas of pain, I will know where on the body it’s coming from. I felt Perspectives on Aging would be a great course to take because the majority of cancer patients are older. I am currently enrolled in the course and have already learned so much about the process of aging. I chose to take Introduction to General Psychology, Life Span and Development Psychology and Adolescent Psychology because they help understand the human brain and body. They also explain how the body develops. I included Mathematics and the Humanities as my QRCO because it touches upon the human race and how the two go hand in hand. This fall I took Health and Society. It’s a good addition to my program because it taught about different health care systems all around the world, which I most definitely encounter being a Patient Advocate. As my TECO, I chose Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living. It’s really important for not only cancer patients, but the entire human race to practice a healthy diet. For cancer patients though, for example you have to really pay attention to your sugar intake because cancer in fact feeds off of sugar. I have yet to take Drug Behavior, but I think it’s a great class to include because not only do most cancer patients receive many different types of chemo, patients can also have a previous drug addiction that needs to be dealt with. I know when I was going through treatment I was under a lot of stress. So, I decided Stress Management was a good course to include. I can give patients different techniques to relieve stress. Also, cancer patients go through psychological stress. Psychological stress is having emotional, mental and or physical pressure. If cancer patients are under distress it just leads to a lower quality of life. Learning and knowing stress management techniques and relaxation have a much higher quality of life. As my WRCO, I chose Technical Communication. There is a lot of technology that is used in hospitals, specifically computers. It will be really important for me to know how to properly use a computer and the program that they use.
My program is interdisciplinary because it combines courses from three different fields of study: Health Science, Psychology, and Social Work. In order to be a patient advocate you have to combine different subjects because you have to be knowledgeable about science, the human body and how to work with families and people. This program will prepare me for my future because this is what I want to do with my life. I want to be a patient advocate for cancer patients. This program is specific to exactly what I want to do.