Cancer Advocate Paula Zahn discusses why many women find it hard to advocate for their own health.
I think that the hard part about advocating for yourself is that it’s a very intimidating process sitting across the table from a doctor, and over the years, I have been exposed to some of the biggest medical train wrecks on the job.
I will never forget a woman that I interviewed about a year ago whose husband was a top cardiac surgeon, and she started having subtle symptoms and went to her M.D., not her husband, but her M.D. and started saying, “You know what, I am starting… you know, I don’t have any energy. I don’t feel any pain in my chest, but my arms are feeling funny.” And then she described other things that were happening with a little bit of dizziness, and as it turned out, she was in her mid 50s and she was in a menopausal state, and much of what she was feeling was a sign to her menopause.
Well guess what, she ended up having a third opinion with her husband’s support, I might add, who was the cardiac surgeon, and she found out she had advanced stages of heart disease. So I think what that story teaches us is that sometimes some of the symptoms that we as women feel are sometimes written off as, “Well, you are exaggerating them because of some emotional state you are in, or it’s a sign or a condition has nothing to do with what you are really experiencing.”
So we can’t be afraid to describe in clinical terms what we are feeling. We know our bodies best. We have been in tune with our bodies from a very early age and we, more than anyone, see subtle changes in our body. And sometimes they are not meaningful changes, but sometimes they are, and we can’t be afraid to address those issues with our doctor.
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