As stated before by Susannah Hills: Fourteen years ago, I sat across from my doctor as he evaluated my prognosis for cancer. Was it just a coin toss? When a bone scan showed that my disease had spread to my skull’s base, I was told I had advanced breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes as well. I decided to take a vacation from reading after seeing the horrifying survival statistics for young women with metastatic breast cancer.
A Valuable Lesson About Dealing With Medical Skepticism
My doctor predicted that I would still be alive in five years if we were in Vegas.
It was reassuring to realize that someone had staked money on my long-term survival, but I was still in shock. In excellent health and as a surgical resident, I was 31-years-old. Except for a recent generational history of breast cancer in my family, I had no known risk factors for the disease. When I was a year and a half old, I had an uncomfortable lump in my tummy the size of a poppy seed. A benign cyst, according to a breast cancer specialist at the time.
The extra fat refused to go. It had been almost a year since I first noticed a little lump in my breast and decided to get it checked out.
The cancer was found to be more aggressive this time around, according to the results.
There are far too many women who have received a diagnosis similar to mine. More women under 45 will be diagnosed with breast cancer than the national norm, at roughly 9% of all women. The consequences are frequently more severe in younger women. Five-year survival rates for women under 40 are 5% lower than for women over 40.
I was taken totally off guard by the diagnosis and left feeling betrayed. The physicians who were caring for me at the time were still in medical school, and I had no idea that they’d make such an error. Doubts began to creep into my mind regarding the career I’d chosen and the healthcare system on which I’d have to rely in order to survive.
Many Americans have voiced resistance to public health standards, masks, and vaccines, which is often driven by a mistrust of medical professionals and healthcare organizations. Over the past year, I’ve pondered about this experience. Around 20% of Americans, according to recent polls, are unlikely ever to get the Covid-19 immunization.
I understand skepticism regarding the Covid vaccine if someone says they don’t trust in medicine or medicine in general. Even though I am a doctor, I have struggled with my own sentiments of mistrust as a patient.
At the end of the day, I realized that in order to get the proper treatment, I would have to confront my own skepticism. After just a few weeks with the treatment, cancer had only spread to my lymph nodes, which were found to be clear after a skull biopsy. A second chance was granted to me. Despite this, the only way to successfully treat my breast cancer would be to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.