SistahSpeak TCB

As some already know, I had a challenging year last year. Lost three friends of over forty years in one week. My father and last remaining aunt. Ruptured disc and tumors on my sciatic never. Stage three uterine cancer diagnosis. It’s the cancer thing and the health thing I really want to talk about.

I was raised to believe that the possibility of good exists in everything. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what good came from my diagnosis. It can be some scary shit to have a doctor tell you before surgery that the worse case scenario would be stage three cancer. It can be even scarier to hear the words a week later. “You have stage three uterine cancer.” It took me a day or two to wrap my mind around this. I accepted the diagnosis. I didn’t accept the idea that cancer was something I have. I did not want to possess or be possessed by the ‘C’ word. I decided from then on to speak in terms of the ‘diagnosis’.

Words have meaning for me and I try to carefully choose them. I slip from time to time but even then I am aware of slipping. Just as I have advised women who want to reduce their body size not to use the word ‘lose’ weight(anything you lose your subconscious mind looks for) I wasn’t about to claim that I ‘have’ the “C” word. It was a diagnosis. Pure and simple. Nothing more.

After I got my diagnosis but before I interviewed my oncologist (yeah I said interview) I went online to do some research.(God Bless the internet). What I found startled but did not surprise me. White women with the same stage of uterine cancer have an 85% likelihood of survival. African American women generally around 65%. What??? The???

So I walk into my oncologists office. Nice people. Upbeat and courteous.(Generally the staff is a good indication of the Doctor). I was seen within five minutes of my arrival there.(Be cautious of Doctors that keep you waiting for hours at time). He talks for a while about what he wants to do and why. Then he asked me if I had any questions. I asked him why there was such a statistical difference between white women and African American women. I looked him straight in the eye and waited for his answer. Without hesitating he said”Institutionalized racism.” He then went on to talk about how often African American women receive the short end of the stick medically. He looked me in the eye and said finally “But you won’t have that problem.:

I knew the answer when I asked. It was important to me that he knew as well.

This is my shout out to sistahs. Don’t accept a lackadaisical attitude about your health concerns. My lawyer a black female had an instance of what she called small strokes. She then told me she wasn’t too worried about it because her doctor didn’t seem to be in any hurry to schedule exams. I insisted to her that she call and get an appointment with someone. Quick. Fast. And in a hurry. If her doctor wasn’t concerned she needed a new doctor.

My sense of urgency about these things was heightened when my first cousin died of cancer earlier this year. She needn’t have. She had a doctor who only gave her one chemotherapy treatment, told her that was enough and sent her home where she passed two years later. Without any further treatment even though she went to see her Doctor at least once a month. I didn’t know about any of this until right before she died. I called and spoke with her the night before she passed. It was both heartbreaking and infuriating.

I’ve known far too many women of color that are no longer with us because they didn’t get the treatment white women are afforded. There is plenty of information available online. If you have a diagnosis of any kind, check things out online. Make sure that your Doctor and his staff treat you with respect. Respecting your time, respecting your needs and attending to you with the best medical science has to offer.

There are bruises on my soul because far too many black women die who don’t have to and shouldn’t have. We have to take responsibility for our own well being. It is the only way we will be able to stand by our men, raise our children and contribute to the society as a whole. Nothing you do is as important as taking care of yourself. It is an example for both our daughters and sons.

My youngest son because of my diagnosis decided to leave corporate America where he was making a crap-load of money to Harvard Medical Research Center where he is using his training to make a crap-load of money and do something productive for society as a whole.

There is the possibility of good in every instance. The good of my diagnosis is both a deeper appreciation for my life and friendships as well as having my son working alongside the number one oncologist in the country. Thanks to our President and the funding made available for this research, soon people diagnosed with cancer won’t have to experience the hell of chemotherapy. One day there will be a cure for all cancers. All diseases.

Til that day we have to stand up and make sure we are receiving the best medical care and attention that is available. We have to stop ignoring signs that something is not right with our bodies. Our lives depend upon it. Perhaps someone reading this might decide to get a check-up. Our children and in my case my grandchildren need us to love and nurture them and to support their growth with love and wisdom. We can only do this if we are taking care of ourselves. Nothing better to do.

Now run and tell that.

Cross posted

16 Responses to “SistahSpeak TCB”
  1. robinswing says:

    Take care of yourselves. Nothing you do is more important that this.

    • princss6 says:

      Thank you, Robin! What a wake-up call. My GG-Grandmother had uterine cancer. She died from it. My Grandmother had uterine cancer. She died from sepsis. I need to find out the latest on diagnosis and preventative care for uterine cancer.

      And I’m going to be honest here. I was told to get a mammograph last fall and I refuse to do it. Yes, I know. This gives me much to think about and maybe is a motivator to moving forward and scheduling my mammogram.

      Wonderful piece!

      • robinswing says:

        Please get to scheduling now. There are definite signs for uterine cancer. I missed them because I could not tell when menopause set in. But looking back, the signs were there.

  2. Thank you sis Robinswing for this!

  3. dmitcha says:

    Robinswing, this moved and motivated me, too. I love your point here, not to use the “have” and own it but to use the “diagnosis” and act on it. Words are so powerful. They are choices far beyond verbal expression!

    A friend of mine said to me not a month ago that she had found a lump in her breast and had to go to the doctor. I stood up, with two other friends, got into the car, followed her there and stayed with her for the three hours of being transitioned from office to office. We talked, laughed, got misty. I wanted her to know that she mattered to me and it mattered greatly that she was healthy and loved. I am standing and shouting “YES!” when you say to be cautious of (I say RUN FROM) practitioners who make you wait and wait. And I add to that don’t go alone unless you have to. Reaffirming your life and love and presence to others at a moment of feeling ill and vulnerable is powerful, too.

    Ran and told it, indeed, RS – here’s to even more people coming by to read and discuss. Let’s all please post the date of our next appts.

    • robinswing says:

      Thank you again for providing me a place where I can express myself to other POC. I could do another diary about the signs that you are in the wrong doctors office. But basically my philosophy boils down to this
      Whether a doctor,plumber,electrician or lawyer, they are hired help. We may pay more to compensate for the skills acquired through education but they are hired to help. Their time is not more valuable than mine since I am the one paying. They do not get to speak to me from the mount as it were. I will not allow myself to be rushed,hurried or unheard by people I am paying to help me.
      I was seriously blessed and supported through this experience. The person known online as amazinggrace flew in twice to cook and clean and organize a small kitchen for me upstairs. She also vacuum sealed everything from her gumbo to pot roast and put them in individual vacuum sealed packages so that the microwave would provide me with delicious home style food for those times when eating was possible. Greater love hath no person than to lay aside their lives for a time to help another.

      I’ve got a CAT scan 10/23

  4. robinswing says:

    Reply to her on critical mass. She might be willing LOL

  5. robinswing says:

    Taking a brief pause for the cause. bakc shortly.

  6. smartypants32 says:

    Today was the 37th birthday of a black female co-worker. I sent her a link to this as my gift.

    Thanks much Robinswing. That “diagnosis” picked the wrong person to mess with!

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