Vicki Whiting, Westminster College professor speaks on life-lessons learnedBy JM Martin428 days ago836 viewsA prominent member of the Sugar House community has chosen to share a life-changing experience inthe hopes that it will help people experiencing similar struggles.Westminster College of Business Professor Vicki Whiting authored a book detailing challenges herfamily experienced when her teenage son, Kevin, suffered for 18 months with an undiagnosed life-threatening condition. The book chronicles their journey through the medical system, up to Kevin’srecovery almost two years later.Whiting said writing the book, which she and her son co-authored, was a healing experience becausetelling their story has become a way to help others learn to be their own advocate while navigating thehealthcare system.“It was difficult to write, but now we are able to make a difference in a way that is meaningful,”Whiting said.When Kevin was only 13-years old, he began experiencing early symptoms that included abdominalpain and loss of appetite.For more than a year, Kevin endured pain so intense he couldn’t attend school or function in hiseveryday activities. Because he couldn’t eat, Kevin began to lose weight rapidly and had to behospitalized at least three times.Although Whiting could see that her son was in chronic pain, the doctors were unable to properlydiagnose Kevin to begin an effective treatment.Eventually, Kevin’s weigh plummeted to only 63 pounds. His doctors diagnosed him with anorexianervosa and prescribed anti-depressants, but the treatment only served to lead Kevin to feel suicidal.Whiting said at that time, the family was willing to try anything to help Kevin get a diagnosis thatwould solve the problem.“It’s heartbreaking for a parent to watch [her son suffer],” she said.Whiting and her family began researching their options to help find an effective treatment for Kevin.Martin, JM. "Vicki Whiting, Westminster College Professor Speaks on Life-lessons Learned."-Sugar House Journal. Sugar House Journal, 02 Mar. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.
Eventually, that search led the family to doctors in Australia, where Kevin was diagnosed with WilkesSyndrome, a genetic condition that causes a major abdominal artery to press against the bowel.After Kevin was properly diagnosed, he was able to return home and receive treatment at PrimaryChildren’s Medical Center.Whiting said the long journey to help Kevin brought their family of four closer together. Kevin’s father,Jeff, older brother Phil and younger sister, Katie all pulled together to support him during the process.She said the family’s experience also lead them to find ways to help health care providers adoptpractices that will lead to better care for patients.Whiting said a message she and her son would like to share is that doctors need to listen to theirpatients.“Luckily, I had a few good listeners on my side along the way, including my mom, my family andfriends and our family doctors. My mom wasn’t afraid to speak up for me when doctors ignored what Ihad to say,” Kevin said.The book Whiting and her son wrote, called “In Pain We Trust: A Conversation Between Mother andSon on the Journey from Sickness to Health,” was released in November by Blooming Twig Books.Whiting and Kevin are planning several appearances to speak about their experiences.Kevin, now 17-years-old, is a healthy high school student looking forward to attending college nextfall.He plans to study medicine and become a pediatric surgeon.Martin, JM. "Vicki Whiting, Westminster College Professor Speaks on Life-lessons Learned."-Sugar House Journal. Sugar House Journal, 02 Mar. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.