One of my most provided pieces of advice for anyone seeking medical assistance, especially in a cancer situation, is to be your own advocate. You know your body best; make sure you say what you want.
I went through a team of medical providers who thought I was too young for mammograms, or that because of my family history I was being too paranoid. I knew at a young age that I needed to be proactive in my own health care, and often found myself needing to defend my concerns, my treatment plans, and even the recommended screenings from other medical personnel. At times, I felt it trying and difficult to keep my head held high, to keep firm in my beliefs.
You may be asking the questions, “How do I advocate for myself?” The first thing you have to do is to speak up for yourself. The last radiologist I had refused to do my mammogram because I was too young. After some debate, he finally said he would allow it. However, it’s only because I held onto my convictions that helped convince the radiologist. One important note is to make sure you remain respectful to the other person. Yelling and being argumentative will get you nowhere in the end. Express your concerns when you have them and ask questions, as many as you want. Once you have all the necessary information, weigh the pros and cons. You’ll be able to better advocate for yourself when you have all the information laid out on the table in front of you.
You will also need to believe in yourself. If I wasn’t confident in my beliefs, in my treatment plans, I may have changed everything just because a doctor suggested what I thought was right really wasn’t the best course of action. Because I believed in what I wanted, I received my mammogram. Since I believed in my treatment decision, and followed through with the plan, my invasive cancer was found.
I’m thankful for having the knowledge to speak up for what I believe to be accurate. I’m thankful for learning that I have every privilege to say something. I’m thankful that because I became my own advocate it saved me from a more severe diagnosis. Being my own advocate pays. In fact, it paid me my life.
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