I saved my life twice.
It’s true. And I didn’t know I had it in me.
The first time was when I found my own breast cancer through a routine monthly breast self exam and brought it to my doctor’s attention.
The second time I insisted on a preventive double mastectomy to reduce my chances of a recurrence.
If I hadn’t taken a stand and advocated for myself, you might not be reading these words.
I survived a devastating disease – at least for now.
Prior to my illness, I was easily intimidated by doctors and the medical system. But once I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found myself making quick life-or-death decisions.
And it turned out that many of those decisions I made – some against the advice of experts – helped saved my life.
After my numerous cancer treatments, I reflected upon my medical situation. The fact that I was only alive because I had successfully advocated for myself in an uncaring healthcare system kept bugging me.
If I could do it, me, an ordinary person, anyone could, right?
The idea to write a book came and persisted. It took three years, but I wrote the book that I wish I’d had during my own diagnosis and treatment.
Calling the Shots: Coaching Your Way Through the Healthcare System may help you fight your own health battles – and win. Of course, no guarantees for positive outcomes exist for any of us, but one fact is certain: those who advocate for themselves can better ensure their medical needs are taken care of.
I have also published an essay on my breast cancer experience, “Breaking Barriers,” in the anthology Voices of Breast Cancer by LaChance Publishing. I speak in public venues about my experience, and I write about navigating the healthcare system in my Calling the Shots blog-column.
I am a professor at a university in the Chicago area and teach writing and literature.
I enjoy spending time with my daughter, two cats, and many friends. I lead a content life, with hobbies that include oil painting, drawing, going to museums, writing, and reading.