A cervical cancer victim and the Vicky Phelan activist have achieved so much in the face of conflicts.
His advocacy is remarkable, especially when you think she is now dead, or near death, thinks she has taken medical advice to get palliative chemotherapy, rather than conducting her own research to new treatment
As a result, the pembrolizumab drug has cured its tumors by over 50 percent.
Thinking about his story, we assumed how we could enable other patients to take better control of their illness. Some may say it is a fine line between the Vicky's and no-nonsense method and the growing refusal of scientific expertise that we see in the field of vaccination, for example.
But I do not see this as a reason not to examine how patients can challenge the medical system constructively.
Fit, the first resource I saw was Vicky himself. His speech at Waterford Institute of Technology, on the occasion of his recent honorary presentation, addresses the leading challenges.
He spoke, in particular, the importance of education and people with the ability and confidence to challenge what people as medical professionals tell them.
"The skills that I called upon me enabled me to indicate that something was wrong and that encouraged me to research further in non-educated skills and often until students reach third level. These are critical thinking skills, "he said.
For example, she says she used these skills to: ask what she had to tell her gynecologist about the CervicalCheck audit; challenge and what they were told when it took the time to reflect on how clear clever history went out to cervical cancer, but "know in my nests that something has disappeared"; analyze the information on its medical file to find evidence that something disappears; and evaluate this information when he found evidence to support his theory of being misunderstood.
However, these skills are not taught in second level education.
As Vicky, herself an educator, said: "What if I did not have a good education and have these skills?" In fact, where would she be if she was not a trained researcher with a Masters degree?
The syllabus of the school
The basic need, as I can see, is to make significant changes to the secondary syllabus. We can see critical thinking as a vital life skill for teaching in the school.
And while teaching research skills can be a challenge at this level, by moving away from rote learning and over-focus on exams, we could introduce self-learning skills to secondary secondary, including self directed research.
A special failure of a secondary education system is that it produces students who can not assess risk. And I do not speak here of complex mathematical formulas; Instead of ensuring that Leaving Certificate graduates can assess everyday, practical risk. For their health, in particular, balancing risks against benefits is an essential skill.
Skill is much more than pure science. The reality for us as people is that, faced with serious bad news in the form of cancer diagnosis, we respond emotionally. Few of us, regardless of our training or background, have the bloodfroid to be objective at once.
This is where our perception of risk comes in. Some of us calculate risk, while others are sensitive to dangers. We all find a different risk. This personal element of risk opinion must be explored during secondary education if people are fully engaged with the health system.
Vicky Phelan wants women to advocate for themselves: "by starting to ask questions about their bodies, for their health, for their care."
His message applies equally to men – encouraging all patients to regain their care.
Vicky Phelan is the first step to become a kind of patient because you have to ask your doctor questions.