Trust Your Instincts When it Comes to Your Healthcare

Trust Your Instincts When it Comes to Your Healthcare

Back before I got diagnosed with cancer, I knew deep down that something was wrong.  I didn’t know how serious the issue was, in fact at one point my biggest worry was that I might be lactose intolerant.  Which goes to show you where my head was at the time.  But in the very back of my mind, I thought to myself, “They are going to find tumors all over my belly.” And it turns out that I was right, but at the time, I dismissed this thought as being melodramatic. But still, I was listening to that little voice that said “something is not right here.”

I am really glad that I trusted my instincts and didn’t give up because let me tell you, time was definitely not on my side.  The cancer progressed quickly and had I allowed the various obstacles that I faced (and they were numerous) to get in the way of the treatment that I needed, I’m not sure that my prognosis would be as positive. Even though I wasted no time in getting treatment, I was diagnosed with stage 4a endometrial cancer.

If you or someone you know is facing a serious health crisis, please know that unfortunately, many times patients have to be their own best advocates, even in the middle of an emotionally devastating life event.  Even though I received great care from a number of providers, I was the one who was managing everything from making follow-up appointments when my symptoms were not going away to calling the insurance company when they didn’t want to pay for my first CT scan.  And it was a frustrating and exhausting process, but I’m here to tell you that I am thankful I didn’t give up.  

While my perseverance played a big role in me receiving timely care, I’m also keenly aware of how my financial and family circumstances provided an advantage. Our insurance is good so aside from a small administrative annoyance with my first CT scan, I didn’t have to worry about things not being covered. Since I am my own boss, I was able to take as much time off as I needed to in order to have a whole slew of tests. I have a supportive husband who started going to appointments with me as soon as we knew that we were likely dealing with some kind of cancer. Having another person in the room when a doctor is talking is a huge help, especially when you are feeling vulnerable. When it was clear that my gynecologist wasn’t going to go out of her way to get me the earliest possible appointment with an oncologist, our family friend called a gynecologist who had recently treated her daughter and got us an appointment the next day. A week later, I had my first appointment with Duke Oncology and 8 days after that I had my first chemo treatment. Looking back, I hate that it took so much effort in order for me to reach the care that I needed. And given that I had so many things going for me, if this process was hard for me, I can’t imagine how hard it would be for someone who isn’t as fortunate.

If you are in a similar situation, stay strong and don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends if you are struggling to find the care you need. You never know who might be able to help you.  ❤️