Ever felt like you didn’t know what you didn’t know? Or that you only knew enough to be dangerous? That is the feeling when you get a cancer diagnosis, amplified by a substantial bit.
The big thing about all of this is that you don’t know a lot about the diagnosis, but you are the premier expert on yourself. That may be comforting to some and frightening to others, but no one knows about you like you do.
Armed with that knowledge you have to advocate for yourself. Even if you retain the services of a medical or health advocate, you still have to advocate for yourself through them or educate them enough to do it with you.
You have undoubtedly fought for yourself at some point during your life, advocating for yourself is not a fight, save that for cancer. This is building a bridge, a two way form of communication between you and your medical team so that you get the care you need in a way that you will be both healed and satisfied as much as possible.
This is the most important bridge of your life and you can employ as many people as you need to in order to make it happen. Your spouse, trusted friend, family, adult child. Anyone that you know both knows you and has your best interest at heart. I didn’t do it alone, I needed my husband and a few trusted friends.
I have described cancer as a runaway train and a tornado, it truly is, with a good strong bridge to your medical team you can inform and be informed during the crazy ride. It starts with questions. Ask all of your questions, even the questions you know there are no answers to because you are sharing how you think, what you are thinking about and what is important to you. Listen to the answers, really listen, and you will learn how they think, what they think about and what is important to them. The bigger the understanding between your thought process and theirs the better it will be.
While searching for that understanding, remember that they are part of team you. You are in charge of yourself and you make the calls about your own health. If at any point you need to pause-do it. If you need to do more research-do it. If you have any doubts, do what it takes to ease them, second opinion, more conversation, referrals, references, just do it. Doubts and unease sap your energy for the fight against cancer, you need all of your energy for that. You’ve go this, be your own best captain of your advocacy team.