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A College Student’s Plea

Many times people ask me how they can effectively advocate for a cause like insurance coverage for obesity treatment such as bariatric surgery or the new medications (Qsymia and Belviq) that were recently approved by the FDA.  After all, taking on the all-powerful insurance industry is pointless, isn’t it?  You can’t beat a foe that large, can you?

Obviously I don’t think so or I never would have started this practice to begin with.  But I understand their point.  Sometimes it is difficult to figure out a good place to start fighting this fight knowing it is a hard and often very frustrating battle.  That’s why ‘m always happy to hear that a patient we represented decided to take on the challenge by taking some small step – – maybe it’s them simply telling a co-worker or support group member how they fought their insurance company and won; doing that empowers others.  Maybe they join the OAC and participate in their wonderful efforts.  Maybe they even will bravely go to their employer and insist the obesity coverage they fought for be made more readily available to all employees.  The fact is all of these “small steps” have been taken by patients we’ve represented – some of those steps have been made many times.  I am convinced that those actions have caused or will lead to big changes over time.  I’m not going to stop believing that anytime soon.  Fundamentally I am an optimist.

Marissa and her Dad – 1994

But something extra-special happened at the beginning of June which made me realize that what we do in our practice has had an impact far beyond just helping a patient get approved or assisting and advising health care providers and device companies.  There has been a monumental impact that I never could have imagined or hoped, for to imagine or hope for something so wonderful would be foolhardy.  Yet it happened:

 

 

 

We have made a positive impact on our children!

How do I know this impact is real?  I know because my daughter, Marissa, gave a speech.

Now please understand this wasn’t just any speech.  This was her Final Exam for one of her classes in her Communications major.  You see, my daughter is 18 and was finishing her Freshman year of college.  The assignment sounded pretty straightforward:  she had to research, write and present an “advocacy” speech.

It could be done on pretty much any topic she chose.  “Anything” is a pretty big menu of topics to choose from.  She chose a subject that was important to her :

The need to require insurance coverage

for treatment of people suffering from obesity.

Her topic choice in and of itself left me pretty much speechless – something many of you reading this just may both wish for and find hard to imagine.  I was shocked, thrilled and honored at her choice.  She worked hard on the research and the structure – a lot had to be said in a short amount of time.

Now mind you, this wasn’t a speech delivered before her classmates in the protected shell of a lecture hall – it had to be performed out in an open student common area known as Red Square, in the middle of the day, on the main University of Washington campus.  A tiny little institution attended only by 40,000+ people.  The assignment was designed to test the student’s nerve as much as their knowledge.  I know I wouldn’t have had the courage to do that when I was 18 – let alone speak on a controversial topic like the one she bravely selected.

But she did it and proud Dad that I am, I want to share it as part of this new Blog.  Her roommate was kind enough to capture it on an iPhone and I can say categorically, without any apologies and only a tiny bit of parental bias, it’s the best damn iPhone video you’ll ever watch!! 

(My special thanks to my son, Jared, who took mercy on his technologically-challenged Dad and generously edited this video to make it as watchable and listenable as it could be.  I couldn’t ask for a better technical consultant.  Without him, sharing this video of his sister would not have been possible.)

I hope you will watch it and I hope you will share it with anyone and everyone you can.  Most of all, I hope you’ll answer the call to action Marissa issues to you at the end.

So the next time you feel like you want to “do something” for this cause, there are steps you can take, both large and small. Do something big – do something small – it doesn’t matter so long as you DO SOMETHING…..

And if you decide that “something” you want to do is giving a speech – well that’s OK too.  BUT – you’d better make it great because the one you’re about to watch got an “A” and I’m telling you that it’s a really tough act to follow!

A Powerful Student Advocate


  1. CathyCathy09-28-2012

    Marissa, what an awesome speech. Your professor BETTER have given you an A! Walter and Kelley, you did good:)

  2. Marissa LindstromMarissa Lindstrom09-06-2012

    Tracy, thank you so much, I am glad the speech made a difference for you and I hope so for many other people as well! And good for you!

  3. tracytracy09-06-2012

    Wow … actually made me cry because I forget my obesity isn’t a character flaw. I’m heading over to the Obesity Action Coalition now. Thank you Marissa! I totally want you on my team!

  4. TriciaTricia08-17-2012

    Marissa you may not remember be but i am a friend of your mom and dads who i met over 14 years ago in San Diego. it has been a few years since i have seen you and wow how you have grown . You did a phenomenal job on your speech. it brought tears to my eyes.
    You shoudl be very proud of yourself….
    Congrats again!

  5. Mary LouMary Lou08-16-2012

    Absolutely incredible – Delivered with depth of knowledge, poise & honest feelings – great combination. Plan on sending to the NYS Chapter ASMBS Board & hope many, many people see it. Good for you Marissa (& proud Dad, Mom & tech brother) A+

  6. HolleyHolley08-11-2012

    Brilliant! I’m blown away on so many levels. Such an important message. Thanks, Marissa, for saying something. You deserve that A. And I think your parents do too. 😉

  7. GraceGrace08-10-2012

    Wow Marissa, Walter!!! Nice job All of you! Very touching!

    congratulations!

    XOXO, grace

  8. Marissa LindstromMarissa Lindstrom08-10-2012

    Aww thanks dad, your the best!

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