The more you share, the more they’ll know.
Be your own health advocate.
You know your body best. Communicating what you know about your health changes to your doctor can lead to an earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment. It’s like giving a detective the necessary clues to solve the case. Without the all clues, it’s a lot harder to make a diagnosis! That’s why it’s your job to advocate for your own health by sharing any and all unusual, yet persistent health changes.
Be honest about all of your health changes.
The more you share, the clearer picture your doctor can get on what is going on with your health. It can help if you make a list of all the health changes or items you want to discuss. This will prepare you and be sure you don’t miss any detail (big or small).
Trust your gut.
When you visit your doctor, if he or she dismisses your concerns with comments like:
- ‘You’re too young’
- ‘You’re just over-training/working out too hard’
- ‘It’s all in your head’
…and your instincts tell you this is not true, tell your doctor why you don’t agree and ask for help in determining the reason for your health change. If your concerns are still not taken seriously, you should get a second opinion.
Stay on top of things.
Often you will get a diagnosis and treatment plan but be sure to ask your doctor how long it should take before you start to feel better. If that time passes and you don’t feel better, call your doctor and ask what you should do next. This will continue to help the doctor understand your health changes and what they might be missing. Be an advocate for you and your health. This might be the difference that helps you survive cancer.
Learn from us
“I learned that even if you’re not sure it is a health change, get it checked. I trusted my instincts, followed through with testing, and received an accurate diagnosis quickly.”Jennifer JayBreast Cancer At 37
“With both of us contributing to the process (my knowledge of my body and symptoms, and her medical knowledge) we were able to detect the cancer. I am grateful that my doctor kept pushing for answers and found the real cause.”Xan Harwood-KarlikPancreatic Cancer At 29
“Always ask your doctor when you should start to feel better – and if treatment doesn’t help, go back to the doctor and keep pushing for answers until you figure out what your body is trying to tell you.”Henry CarrBone Cancer At 17
“Through this experience, I’ve learned how important it is to advocate for yourself...If you notice a subtle and persistent health change, share it with a doctor and stand up for yourself if you disagree with their diagnosis.”Matt CaliTesticular Cancer At 15
Frequently Asked Questions
My doctor told me I would be called to schedule another appointment. I never heard from anyone. Does that mean I don’t need the appointment anymore?
Not hearing from your doctor does not mean you don’t need the appointment. On the contrary, you may have simply slipped through the cracks in their system. Call your doctor and follow up on appointments, referrals and test results.
I want to learn more about my diagnosis. Where is the best place to find reliable medical info online?
We generally recommend MedlinePlus.gov, which is run by the National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus is frequently curated and updated, and it provides in-depth information on over 1,000 health topics in both English and Spanish. If you do choose to visit other websites, be aware that many of them might be selling products or giving advice without adequate expertise or evidence to support their claims.
Yes, be sure to ask when you should be feeling better or when your symptoms should be gone. Then ask what you should do if you don’t feel better in that timeframe.
My doctor told me to come back in six months but I am feeling worse now. Should I still wait the six months?
If you still don’t feel well or feel worse, call your doctor and let him/her know. To provide you with the best care s/he needs to hear from. In order to help you, your doctor may need you to come in sooner.
Be the first to know