Paula shares how women should advocate for themselves and their family members.
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I think it’s real tough thing to learn how to do, and I talk to my doctor friends about it all the time. And they said, “The problem with you patients is you come in and usually you are intimated by us. You know, either there’s this God thing that we impose on you or it’s something you imagine.” And I think that we all have to teach ourselves to become our own health advocates and that means, when you go to the doctor’s office you need to have—and I do this myself—I will write my 20 questions down because I know once I get there, I’m not going to remember them, and not to be afraid to ask them all and not to be afraid to say, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand that, doctor, explain that to me.” So I think the first step of the process is being an advocate for yourself. If you have a family member that’s not strong enough to do that, then I think that we have an obligation, as a loving family member, to learn as much as we can about what that family member is up against, whether they’re fighting osteoporosis or cancer. And I think one of the things that my mother and father found deeply comforting was to have information. And, it really—in the end was their decision how to treat their individual cancers but, as a patient you go through these horrible stages, the anger and denial, and I just found in my own family that, once you go through those several stages that the most empowering next step to take was to educate them, ourselves, and let them read as much as they could about their own prognosis so they can make informed choices.
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