Listening to Yourself

Have you ever sensed that you’re not well, despite showing no obvious signs of illness? Sometimes you just know something is up, but after a doctor’s visit and bloodwork, you get an “all clear” that just doesn’t sit right. Instead of being relieved, you can’t shake the feeling that something more is going on.

We get subtle messages all the time as to the state of our health, and there is absolutely no reason to ignore them. Your intuition matters, and it can be all too easy to push aside, for fear of seeming irrational, demanding, or annoying. What I have found is that those gut instincts sometimes matter more than anything else.

After I completed my 6-drug chemo protocol, followed by a month long hospital stay for high-dose chemo with stem cell rescue, I was recommended to do full abdominal radiation by two of the oncologists I was consulting with. I respected these physicians, and trusted them – but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I shouldn’t do it. I was used to living by facts, rational arguments, information. I researched my little heart out. It was certainly reasonable to recommend. It seemed like it could be what I needed to do. But a small voice inside of me said NO!

Ultimately, I declined the treatment. There is nothing scarier. My situation was that of an orphan disease – meaning there were so few cases that there was no standard protocol. Every treatment decision was ultimately made by me. It was terrifying. But I listened. And I’m still here. Outliving it.

What I’ve found is that real collaboration between patient and doctor – starting with the doctor listening intently to the patient – can make all the difference. We have amazing technology available, but the bulk of information used to diagnose patients still comes from what a patient shares. I’ve been told that when the patient says something is wrong, they tend to be right. If you feel dismissed by your physician, seek out another. Second opinions are always worth it!

And, if you’re in a place that feels beyond frightening or impossible – seek out support. You have options – we are here, you have options for doctors, and you “know” more than your rational brain may think. Be well. We’re rooting for you all the way!



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