The Huntsville Forester banner has gone pink this week in support of all of those who suffer, have suffered and will suffer from breast cancer in our communities and the countless people raising funds for research in order to enhance detection and the odds of beating the disease successfully.
As many women will tell you, it is thanks to the efforts of so many and the millions of dollars raised at every turn, that a breast cancer diagnosis no longer has to spell a death sentence. Women survive the disease and it is their strength coupled with their ability to not only talk about it, but also offer us advice, that is changing the conversation. They’re encouraging those with a fresh diagnosis to seek help, they’re reaching out to them and teaching them what treatment looks like and the struggles to expect. They’re also teaching them that the disease should not be swept under the rug and fought alone. They’re teaching us that our loved ones need support and empowering every single one of us to take responsibility for our own health.
How many seem to have experienced something similar? A murky diagnosis and a doctor who shrugs off a pain or an uncomfortable feeling a patient may be having as nothing? Perhaps the doctor is trying to ease his or her patient’s anxiety, but when it comes to advocating for our own health, we have to take the bull by the horns and demand further investigation if we feel our physician is not taking us seriously enough. They are not God, they falter like the rest of us and the their final word is not law. You are entitled to a second opinion and further testing. Doctors should also ensure they take those little aches and pains seriously, regardless of a patient’s age.
Treatment and care must go both ways, it is a relationship between the care provider as well as the patient.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, reach out to your loved ones or cancer organizations to help give you the support you need. Health advocates in a tired and sometimes overburdened health care system are indispensable. Be sure to have someone with you who can ask the pertinent questions, push for necessary treatment and understand the options. They are a second pair of ears and the additional energy you may require to navigate the system. Once you heal, be sure to pass all that you’ve learned on.