The National Breast Cancer Foundation just published my guest blog post on self-advocacy, in which I explained how "The first time I heard that term in a medical context it conjured images of clench-fisted activists picketing in front of hospitals, demanding better care. Actually, self-advocacy is simply the act of representing yourself—your views, needs, desires and interests."
"...For those times you’re tempted to keep a symptom or worry to yourself, try motivating yourself with mantras such as:
· My job is to provide accurate, complete information about my condition and my concerns.
· Talking about symptoms is not complaining; it’s reporting valuable information."
"Let’s say you tried to be forthright but feel your physicians dismissed your symptoms or questions, or they seemed too rushed to address them properly. Encourage yourself with mantras such as:
· My goal is to get the best care possible, even if I have to push.
· I have a right to understand my condition and my choices.
· My job is to keep asking questions until I understand."
Any time your healthcare team doesn’t address your needs, for whatever reason (and it’s usually best not to waste energy on blame), be direct: I still have concerns. I need you to go over this again, please. If that’s too stressful, simply ask a nurse, friend or relative to advocate for you: She is still concerned about…and has questions about…."