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From Your No. 1 Health Advocate

Chances are, you are reading this in your doctor's office. Chances are, you would rather be anywhere else and will feel rushed or tongue-tied when you finally get into the exam room.

This time, challenge yourself to get the most out of your doctor's appointment. Remember, he or she is a human being like the rest of us and cannot read your mind. Only you can bring your specific health issues to the conversation. (And by the way, your health concerns don't even have to be related to the reason for your appointment.)

On our website, WebMD.com, we encourage users to understand that health and medicine are personal matters. Take our cover story on Shaquille O'Neal — professional basketball player, father, actor, rapper, and entrepreneur. From a health and fitness perspective, Shaq is doing what is right for him. He works with professionals to ensure that his health game plan is sound, yet he gives equal attention to knowing, and listening to, his own body. And you know what? You do not have to be 7' 1" and weigh 335 pounds to take control of your health. You just need to be diligent — and informed.

I tried to be both recently, when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. We discussed the questions she would ask each of her doctors (surgeon, oncologist, radiologist, and internist) about her treatment. We didn't raise these questions for the sake of asking. Nor did we need to possess the knowledge that her doctors are trained and paid to know. We asked because we had to learn how to plan her life around her treatment and how to help her heal. Like the writer Joan Didion, who discusses the dedicated advocacy she provided for her gravely ill daughter in our WebMD Checkup we all must champion our own unique health challenges.

That is why in this issue our message to you is simple: Be diligent about your individual health and wellness. This year, WebMD the Magazine and WebMD.com will continue to provide you with the information we hope will lead to better health for you and your family.

Yours in well-being,

Nan-Kirsen Forte

Nan-Kirsten Forte, MS
Editor in Chief, WebMD the Magazine

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