Every year in October, I become very excited when I see all of the support and dedication that is given to breast cancer awareness. I have a great appreciation for all that is being done to raise funds for research and for providing monies for testing for those who can’t afford it. This year, I got to see a 10K run up close and personal as my husband, Kirk, trained and participated for the first time in my honor and the honor and memory of those whose names he received from others, including our social media friends. However, I was quickly brought back to reality when I read a post a couple of days ago from a woman with breast cancer in Florida who had just returned from seeing her doctor and was told that there was nothing more that could be done for her except to give her meds to manage her pain. Wow, what a reminder of how far we have not come when it is a matter of dealing with a patient and not just the disease.
I am not a doctor but that doesn’t mean that I am not aware that there may be answers out there that a doctor has chosen either not to give to me or does not care enough to research. When it comes to my life, I am the only one who owns it and I am not going to give it and my choices over to someone who has no vested interest in it or is so far removed from caring about someone else that their only focus is on how to make money off of me
My thoughts went back to when I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time and had a lumpectomy. After the surgery, I went for my first visit to an oncologist who decided that I should have chemotherapy and radiation based upon some WebMD statistics that indicated what should be done based upon my age. Sitting there with all kinds of thoughts running through my mind, I finished my appointment and left with a very unsettled feeling. At first, I thought it was just because I was scared because of the chemo but the more I thought about it, the more I just didn’t think that my course of treatment should be based upon my age. So, I called the oncologist’s office and cancelled any further appointments and treatment with him and went back to my primary care physician for a referral to another oncologist. It was the first of several times that I requested a second opinion (or more) and each time I have discovered that it was the right thing to do.
This raised another question for me and that is why in this the 21st century are we, as patients, still be treated on many occasions as second class citizens? And as I looked around, I became acutely aware of the fact that this is not only occurring with cancer patients but is seen regularly across the board with doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals and I am appalled. I appreciate that all of these medical professionals have gone to school and trained to learn their professions but so have all of the rest of us trained to do whatever it is that we do. Just because one is in the medical profession doesn’t mean that they are God although I seem to be meeting more and more of them who seem to think they are. I have seen arrogance at all levels of the medical profession and personally, I do not wish to be a victim of it any longer and I encourage every other person to approach their own care and treatment with the same attitude.
I am not a doctor but that doesn’t mean that I am not aware that there may be answers out there that a doctor has chosen either not to give to me or does not care enough to research. When it comes to my life, I am the only one who owns it and I am not going to give it and my choices over to someone who has no vested interest in it or is so far removed from caring about someone else that their only focus is on how to make money off of me. One may say that if you have questions, why don’t you just ask the doctor but I don’t always know what questions to ask. That doesn’t mean that I am stupid; it just means that I don’t have the knowledge and expertise in a particular area so that is why I need the opinion of another professional who does. I have some wonderful doctors who have made my dealing with cancer just about the best experience that it could possibly be so I know that is possible for other, too.
I beg every single person that when it comes to your healthcare that you put yourself first. That means that if you encounter a professional who seems not to be acting in your best interest to seek another opinion. There is lots of help available out there so keep looking until you find what you need. Just remember that there is nothing more important than your life so never give up. Your life may just depend on it.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.