United States Healthcare: Your Own Best Advocate

Doctors treated me like I was crazy and told me there was no way I had cancer, especially same cancer as my little brother. They disregarded my symptoms; trouble breathing, chest pressure, extreme exhaustion, dizziness, night sweats, swollen lymph nodes, and sudden weight loss. They spent more time trying to convince me that I was wrong than helping me discover the reasons behind my symptoms. One doctor said I was paranoid, and it took a total of six doctors to shockingly find out that I had the same disease as my little brother.

It wasn't until I got sick, and had to use the health care system, that I realized the number of doctors who are losing opportunities to save lives. There's a dark side to the medical world. A total of 5 doctors misdiagnosed me with things like panic disorder, asthma, bronchitis, allergic reaction, and other unrelated individual symptoms. As I had cancerous tumors rapidly growing in my body, their solution was to throw medication at various misdiagnosed problems; anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications, asthma medication, amoxicillin, allergy treatments, pain killers, and muscle relaxants. Despite my persistent prodding for real answers, I wasn't being listened to.

I had recently given birth to my second child, a daughter, and my husband was on his third deployment. The doctors assumed I couldn't handle the stress and even commented about the stereotypes of military wives. All of my severe symptoms boiled down to "being a typical military spouse under stress." I felt the doctors didn't value me and that I was going to die. A few months after my little brother's diagnosis, I got the results of my biopsy back at stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer, a determination that I was repeatedly told was impossible.

My experience with neglectful and arrogant doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical greed left me with post-traumatic stress disorder and lost trust in the American health care system. I was already going through the unimaginable, and these doctors dropped the ball. They added to my grief and pain in indescribable ways.

You are your own best advocate. You know your body best. Your instincts are there for a reason. Don't ever question your sanity or allow a doctor to make you feel insignificant. Your life is worth answers. You are the only one who can fight for yourself. Don't let this horrible health care system dictate the quality of your life.

An estimated 9,290 people living in the United States (US) will be diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2013. — lls.org

Has anything like this happened to you? What did it take to find your diagnosis?

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