My three-year checkup for thyroid cancer was on Monday.
Why is this important? Well, it is important on so many levels I decided it was worth sharing my journey in the event it may be helpful to others.
Listening to my report last week was a compelling reminder of my dad's wise words.
I had gone to exhaustive lengths to choose my doctor. After interviewing three different doctors in Houston and Dallas it became clear what path would be best. The first two interviews triggered recommendations for the man I ultimately chose.
My doctor was said to be one of the top three Endocrinologists in the world. However, the treatment I would receive would not be much different than if I had stayed in Tyler. So I asked him why I should travel to M.D. Anderson to get my treatment. His reply was clear and straightforward, he said, “Mr. Clyde, all I do is treat cancer.” It was good enough for me.
Each year since 2009 I have returned to make sure everything is as is should be.
Some thoughts on being your own advocate are:
Our encounters with physicians have become like having a meeting with a rock star. Time is of the essence and in such a brief span it is difficult to get everything in you want without respect to the things they want to check off their list. Take the time you need to get all your questions and concerns answered. Be your own advocate.
Write down questions you may have for your doctor or nurse and have a pen and paper ready to take notes. If you are not good at listening and retaining information, take your spouse or a friend with you to help with this. Be your own advocate.
You may even wish to record the conversation on your smartphone or other device in order to accurately relay everything back to your family and friends. Be your own advocate.
Remember, you know how you feel better than anyone else. Tell your health care provider. If you are uncertain whether they have heard you, tell them again. Be your own advocate.
I had the unreasonable expectation my doctor should let me know when to do bloodwork between annual visits to monitor certain markers of my medications. When I talked about this with my nurse she reminded me, “If you feel bad you need to let us know.” Her words hit home. How is a busy man in Houston supposed to know if I am tired and requiring naps all the time? Be your own advocate.
We expect our doctors to read our minds. In fact, we may expect more than that. Miracles, good news, a report we beat the odds.
We forget the details over time.
On this visit, I received the good news that I was being moved from a patient to survivor status to continue being monitored. This was good news. It made me wonder anew why I needed to continue going to Houston for my checkups.
When I asked my doctor, he reminded me that my type of Thyroid cancer was a more rare type and he felt that factor was important enough for me to continue coming to Houston for annual check-ups.
It surprised me when I realized this. I had forgotten what type of thyroid cancer I had in three short years.
Everyone has different needs when it comes to being their own advocate. Your ability to travel to see a doctor in another city or your need to be closer to home if you get really sick are reasons to evaluate such decisions as they benefit you. Be your own advocate.
Thankfully, in spite of the institutionalization of health care over the past 40 years, it is still not a one-size-fits-all world when it comes to making choices in your own best interest. Listen to yourself with confidence and choose what is best for you. Be your own advocate.
At the end of the day, no one can take care of you unless you take care of yourself.
Be your own advocate.