Ashton Nesmith-Kochera, BCPA, CBD (CBI) – Private Patient Advocacy Practice
Having been chronically ill for most of my life, I tried to live as normal as I possibly could. I went on to college and started teaching. It soon became evident that teaching young children was not an option due to the reality of my unpredictable and demanding healthcare needs. However, my passion for educating and supporting others came easily when I felt called to help those who experienced similar health situations. It was the traumatic pregnancy, childbirth, and NICU experience with my daughter in 2006 that was the motivation behind me receiving my birth doula certification in 2009, and co-founding Hagerstown Birth, a non-profit childbirth advocacy organization in 2011.
In 2011, my grandmother died suddenly. Around the same time, my daughter started showing similar symptoms to the ones I dealt with. Things just didn't make sense. I started researching my life away because I was tired of being dismissed, especially now as a caretaker to my daughter. My mother was actually the one who came across a doctor that helped us connect the dots. What seemed like unrelated health issues on my maternal side of the family, was actually a genetic condition that affects the bodies connective tissue. Finally, in 2013, not only myself, but my daughter, mother, and sister were all diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. A diagnosis that made perfect sense for all of us, including my late grandmother.
After realizing the impact that chronic illness not only had on myself as a patient but myself as a caretaker, I founded a local support group, Tri-State EDS, in 2015, which to date has nearly 300 members. In early 2018, I became one of the 149; first, Board Certified Patient Advocates, just a few short months after my father passed away from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 53. His story brought everything full-circle for me as I know without a doubt, I am right where I am supposed to be as a Board Certified Patient Advocate.
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Listing Title: Ashton Nesmith-Kochera, BCPA, CBD (CBI) – Private Patient Advocacy Practice