Mary explains how she advocated for her health while undergoing treatment for uterine cancer.
I am a big advocate for all different kinds of people around the world. I have a disabled daughter, so I advocate for the disabled, but then when it came time to advocate for myself, it was much more difficult.
When I went through my first radiation treatment and I was at a cancer center, I called a doctor friend one day just in tears about what was happening and he said, “Mary, I have never seen you like this. You always speak up for yourself.”
The thing is when you are going through the treatment, you are just stripped raw. You have no emotional strength, and I was afraid that by saying something I would cry. Well, I had to realize that it was okay to cry, and so I went, when I went through abdominal radiation treatment, almost 100% of the time when someone goes through that they are going to have diarrhea, they are going to have some nausea. And so my issue was why hadn't they referred me to a nutritionist, and I remember the nurse, and of course I started crying during that time, and the nurse said to me, “Well honey, all you got to do is ask,” and my point was, "Why do I have to ask?"
If everybody that goes through this, has this, why are we not set up with a nutritionist before the treatment even begins, and she said, “Well, you know we usually do refer you to nutritionist but yours has started earlier in the cycle than most people start.” That carried no weight with me at all.
I have done a lot of public relations for medical centers and for cancer centers that have opened and they always talk about how they care for the whole person.
So it was very interesting for me to go through this and see that you can say that on paper, but does it actually happen?
And then I finally, about a week later, I went to him and I said, “You know, I am not dealing with this very well. I really need to see a counselor.” Same thing, “Well, honey, all you got to do is ask.” Well, why do I have to ask? Why isn’t someone coming to me and saying, “How are you doing? Why don’t you make an appointment with your counselor,” rather than, you know, coming from where I have to be proactive.
So, you do have to be proactive, and what I learned after that time was, I had friends help me. A girlfriend says, "What can I do," like I said, "Go on the Internet and do some research for me." A girlfriend says, "What can I do," and I say, "Can you come over and deal with my insurance bills?" I had five things to question; she won on all of them. I am not sure I could have done that in the state I was in, so it was terrific.
So, before you start treatment, really look at all the things you might need and get them set up right away because treatment is the worst. That is what’s really going to wear you down.
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