Recently I had the honor of being contacted by Heather, a mesothelioma survivor. I read her story and was deeply moved by her courage and determination to live. Heather asked me to lend a hand in helping raise awareness for National Women's Checkup Day, May 12-th, and so I'm posting about it (a few days in advance, because with our sporadic internet connection I can't trust myself to post on the exact day).
It really is so important to listen to ourselves, be aware of the signals our body gives us and notice anything unusual. Life is so, so busy; and we, the wives and mothers, are often too busy taking care of others to stop and think about our own health. Yet it is essential, not only for ourselves, but for our families too. Our children need their mothers. Many senseless tragedies were caused by sheer neglect - the patient was late in going to the doctor, the doctor wasn't attentive enough in listening to the patient.
Oftentimes when I'm not feeling well, I tell myself "I hope it's nothing" - it's a natural thought, and usually it really is nothing, but it's better to be sure. Heather, for example, was diagnosed when her baby was just 3.5 months old. Having a new baby leads to a somewhat chaotic period in your life, especially when it's your first. It's only too easy to chalk anything unusual up to exhaustion and wacky hormones. Yet when Heather kept losing weight, the realization that something must be wrong finally set in, and eventually she got her diagnosis.
It's also important to stand your ground with your doctor, if you feel you aren't being listened to. Many doctors - through no fault of their own - are overworked and therefore might miss crucial symptoms in their patient. If your doctor dismisses your complaints, yet the symptoms persist and you feel something isn't quite as it ought to be, it is your right and duty to ask for a second opinion.
I do have a little story of my own to share here, though fortunately for me it wasn't a matter of life and death. Over a year ago, I felt numbness in my fingers and toes. Since I've never felt anything like this before, I panicked and called my family doctor with suggestions of various degenerative diseases. He laughed me off and said it's "all in my head", but I wasn't convinced. I sat down and started looking things up. Fortunately, being a nutritionist, I recalled that sub-clinical Vitamin B12 deficiency can manifest itself in various neurological symptoms. I started taking a supplement and not only the numbness in my fingertips was gone before long, but my cycles became regular as well and soon I was pregnant, to my great joy.
So, let's cherish our health, our lives and our families. Let us not lose what we hold dear because of a tendency to sweep problems under the carpet and ignore dangerous signs. May we all have many years of active, healthy life ahead of us, to enjoy and share with our loved ones.