The life and death difference of being your own advocate.

As  someone who does not go to the doctor and had a new insurance plan,  I did not have a PCP or ob gyn when I found my lump in early March.  With no one in my network willing to see me in less than two months,  I found an academic clinic to get me in a week out.  When I went there the resident sent me out with a number to call for a mammogram and ultrasound – for which on calling I was given a date three weeks out.  I drove over to the mammogram department and asked if they had any cancelations for that day or the next.  They said they had some for the next day but I had to call scheduling (back)  which I did and got in. I ran into similar situations with the ultrasound and biopsy and did a lot of footwork and made several calls to my insurance company to get everything completed stat. Then,  the wait.  So,  now I am calling the clinic…The receptionist tells me the nurse will text the resident.  After no call back that day,  the next day the (experienced) nurse is telling me my results have been in my chart since the day prior,  and she had texted my little resident and instructed her to call me immediately. Now she is promising to hunt said resident down and I will receive a call back in ten minutes from her or the nurse. This is Thursday,  April 7th.  The resident calls,  explaining (lying) that she tried to call me and had two wrong numbers.  She gave me a referral for a breast cancer surgeon- soonest they could see me was 12 days.  Booked appt .  Took next day/Friday off,  went and picked up all of my own records, self referred my way into an appointment for Monday a.m. at Karmanos Cancer Institute,  and begged my way into a new PCP office for Monday afternoon.  Karmanos: Stage 2a-b triple negative possibly BRCA. Treatment plan: A, get BRCA tested to determine single or double mastectomy. B,  Testing takes about six weeks so ‘if I want’  I can start chemo before surgery,  my choice.  No further testing needed for treatment plan. Shuffled downstairs,  given appt for oncologist consult 8 days later on April 19th. Jet out of Karmanos to see new PCP –  Dr.  Meribeth Knight.  Wait over an hour for my squeezed in appt at the end of the day.  She hears my story. It’s 5:00 p.m. She tells me she’s not a fan of the original surgeon I have scheduled from the original resident,  and I want a second opinion. She immediately texts the surgeon she recommends, Dr. Cynthia Sandona,  who’s office immediately calls my cell phone,  scheduling me for the very next morning. Before the end of the next day,  I have had an ultrasound on my lymph nodes and a head chest pelvic CT scan to check for metastasization. VERY NECESSARY TESTS that Karmanos had no plans to perform. I also walked out that day with a next day plastic surgeon appointment,  surgical port placement appointment,  and timely oncologist appointment with Dr. Savitha Balaraman(also amazing) . Dr. Sandona called me the very next morning with the CT results –  and referred me for a Stat appointment with a gyno-oncologist. Two weeks after my appointment with Dr. Sandona I had my first chemo treatment –  pretty amazing really.  I truly believe that a high percentage of cancer deaths in this country are because people just allow the doctor to be the doctor and make all the decisions and decide what timely is. I am so thankful for my own tenacity and the team of bulldogs I have because of it! We’re gonna kick cancer’s ass💪! I  tell this in hopes that you will all bark as loud for yourselves if God forbid you ever need to!

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