Be Bold. Ask hard questions about getting & staying healthy
Why is it when we question things against the grain we are seen as uneducated, or as targets for social media to attack?
Why is it that just engaging in conversation or questions with our doctors, or requesting more information instead of nodding, smiling and walking out the door equates to being a difficult patient?
Ever frown in confusion to what you’ve heard in the media? Do you question what’s being delivered en mass? Are you seen as non-compliant, argumentative, or gasp, too emotional about our own health?
Is it just me?
Sometimes I wonder if we are living in an alternate world. I was confronted in my oncologist’s office, by the Nurse Practitioner, no less, of these exact things: Too emotional about my own health, just because I was asking ‘too many’ questions about medication and surgery options and about staying healthy. How is that even possible? Shouldn’t our own health (learning about staying healthy) be a powerfully emotional thing to each of us?
Let me circle back here.
Let’s start with a little about my education background. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor’s of Science in Health and Human Performance, Physiology. While this hardly qualifies me for some things, it does reinforce my general nature to question things and have scientific curiosity. I love to read and investigate the many sides of an issue. And while I often end up with more questions than answers, this knowledge push is important to me.
My husband and I have five kiddos. And as you can imagine, our adventure in parenthood has brought a myriad of issues, medical and otherwise. My job of being an informed parent turned quickly into an informed patient, when in 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. If there is nothing else that my walk with this disease has taught me – is the empowerment, right and need for me to question everything. To protect my own health.
Let me explain more some of my own experience. Trust me when I say being diagnosed with cancer is the equivalent to being simultaneously sucker punched and pushed down a cliff at the same time. As you are scrabbling for air, grasping at any small thing to stop the landslide effect … every appointment you walk into not only de-humanizes you more and more, but also seems determined to keep the main focus on the sickness that is to come. Not on the way to maintain health.
From the beginning I was told how ill I would be … never how to stay well.
I also was confronted with the things that mainstream media and directive do NOT tell us. My cancer – an almost 5cm mass, was not diagnosed on mammogram, magnified mammogram, nor ultrasound. Let me say that again for the back row … my Stage 3, aggressive cancer was not seen in any radiographic studies. In fact, despite being able to palpate the mass, the radiologist who did my ultrasound and evaluated my mammograms said there was ‘nothing’ there. He even recommended that I wait six months to see what changed by then. He did not recommend a biopsy or refer me to a breast care specialist. If it were not for me returning to my Primary Care Practitioner and insisting on my unease in that guidance, I truly do not know if I would be here today. Period.
Did you know that on estimate around 20% of tumors are missed on mammogram?
And here’s the kicker – that number is based on known cases (like mine) when individuals listened to their intuition and demanded further testing. That number could in actuality be much higher! When I was getting mapping of my lymph nodes, the head of the Radiology Department told me that he never recommends his loved ones receive a mammogram. He said, and I quote, ‘mammograms are like trying to find a snowball in a snowstorm, rarely can you ever see what you are looking for.’ He told me his recommendation is to get a baseline MRI, and follow up MRIs to determine breast health. Has anyone else ever heard of this? I hadn’t. Nor had I ever been referred to get a MRI before – from any practitioner, despite having dense breast tissue. I really didn’t even know it was an option, quite frankly. But apparently, I should have known to ask.
Why the long story (I promise I have tons more!)? I hope it helps illustrate why asking questions and diving into to topics is important. It is important to your health and the health of the ones you love to know more. It is important not to be convinced that the mainstream narrative is always the best narrative for you and your loved ones. I don’t think it is outside the box to say that the majority of health care providers are stretched for time. It does benefit us to do the most research we can before heading to the doctor to help have an informed conversation within a small amount of time.
Unfortunately, my experiences have also illustrated that instilling a certain amount of fear – as an underlying component of a conversation – increases the likelihood of overall compliancy. I can talk for hours on my experiences in this, but will save those conversations for another time.
What’s important now, is how is fear being used as a manipulative tool to influence our general immune health. And is the general guidance we are hearing over and over actually in reality risking the current and future health of our immune systems?
So what questions should we be asking?
Well, in terms of what is going on today – probably quite a few. First off, should we be asking why we don’t seem to hear anything about how to keep our immune systems strong and working the way they are designed to work?
I believe strongly that proper nutrition is the key to a healthy immune system and staying healthy. Seems like I am not the only one who thinks this as you can read here and here. Turns out, nutrition is key in boosting our immune systems and regulates the immune system’s optimal response to threats.
In some of our upcoming posts – we’ll break down some specific Vitamins and Minerals and why you and your immune system needs them. And we’ll discuss other key links between nutrition and a healthy immune system.
But the question is – why is it we don’t hear enough about the importance of nutrition when we are sick, recovering, or even trying to focus on staying healthy?
And what about exercise? Surely we should be hearing about the importance of getting outside, getting active and the benefits for our immune system, mentality and physical health. And yet … no. Even as the weather gets warmer and quarantine restrictions lessen a bit in certain areas of the country – there is more information daily in regards to a vaccine that is at a minimum months in the making, than the simple benefits of physical exercise and the positive effect on the immune system and staying healthy. More pressure to ‘stay in, stay well’ instead of supporting those who are getting outside. In fact, in many areas of the country, the scare factor is so high, people are discouraged from even leaving their homes, walking in their neighborhoods, or spending time in open spaces with social distancing measures in place. Why?
I think we can all agree, this is not the last virus outbreak we will see in our lives. What information can we glean from this experience? What are the big pieces of the puzzle that are missing? Do we see major components of this shutdown approach that really do not make sense? And isn’t it true that we have the right to evaluate how the process has worked? What voice do we have in all of this?
Bottom line: do your homework as best you can. Keep your mind open, and make sure to read both sides of the narrative. Most stories have a monetary investment in the ‘game’, depending on the side they are batting for. I can’t be the only one here who is thinking that the big picture is not looking out for each of us. And that we owe it to ourselves to make sure we are looking out for ourselves and our family members.
And all the while, make sure you are getting the right nutrients, exercising, and paying attention to the products you use in your home. All of those things have a huge impact on your health.
Talk to us – what questions are you asking? How are you taking care of your immune system? How are you staying healthy?