In light of the current news in the media regarding the Cervical Check scandal, I thought I might take this opportunity to talk about the importance of taking control and being in charge of your health.
You are in charge
The most important thing to remember at all times during your cancer experience is that you are in charge.
While a lot of the time it can feel like you have handed over your life to your medical team, in reality, you have not. You are still in charge of you. And, you must be.
By this I mean, you must take control and be in charge of your health at all times. This means, asking your medical team each and every question you would like an answer to. Taking the time during your appointments to make sure to discuss everything on your mind. Learning all options available to you and taking time, if needed, to make informed decisions that are right for you.
Doctors are not incapable of making mistakes
I feel the Cervical Cancer scandal is somewhat of a revelation to a lot of us that doctors are not incapable of making mistakes. That they are only human. That they are carrying out a job. That you are just one more patient in their already very busy day. Even with the best will in the world, they are not infallible. It’s not a thought we like to think, but it is the truth. And no matter how competent your medical team may seem, they are not in charge of you – you are.
I’m not suggesting for one second that the women so unfortunately caught up in the scandal could have done anything to prevent what happened. I’m sure they could not. Rather, I want all of us to think, really think, about our own medical care, and whether we are in charge and on top of it.
What I want to say is this – take control of your health – be in charge of all your appointments, stay on top of your medical team. Remind them of appointments they said you should have that you haven’t received, call them up to follow up on test and scan results, make sure you know all the details of current and future treatment options available to you.
Keep a notebook of all your questions, appointments, items discussed, outcomes. Research the treatment options available to you – those presented to you by your medical team and others that may be available in other hospitals, other locations, other countries. Don’t be afraid to ask for and get all the help, support and treatment that you need.
After your treatment is over, make your health your priority – make those changes you want to see in your life to stay healthy. Be in charge of taking care of yourself.
You are the patient – you are the most important piece of your cancer journey – and it’s up to us to remember this.
For more on this, read this great post by Clare Reed on Gaining Agency with Your Medical Team During Cancer over on the CBT for Cancer blog.