How I Became My Own Advocate
I was a 28 year old mom of three. I had a two year old and twins that were just shy of a year. I worked full time and was extremely busy with everyday life, but I was happy and healthy, so I thought.
I found my lump when I was pregnant with my twins. It was very small at the time and the radiologist who did the ultrasound thought it was hormonal related, so I was sent on my way. A few months after the twins were born, I contacted my OB-GYN because my lump was still there. Living in Virginia, I unfortunately had to wait until my insurance would cover another ultrasound, since my first one was normal. And, I was told the same thing – that it was hormonal from having twins and it would go away. Since my husband and I just had twins and didn’t want more children at that point, I went back on birth control right after that appointment. Three months later, in December 2019, the mass had doubled in size and was now painful, so at my physical in the beginning of January I mentioned again I had a mass and that it was bothering me. Immediately, she issued a third ultrasound and a mammogram. I had my two year old daughter with me when they told me I needed to see a surgeon right away because it didn’t look good. By the end of that week I was told I had stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma.
It was the most terrifying experience that I have ever faced in my life. When I was first diagnosed I cried for about two weeks, but then I looked at my kids and husband and knew I had to be strong. I have so much life ahead of me. I never knew how strong and courageous I am until I’ve gone through this experience. You never think this would happen to you, especially at such a young age. I often asked myself, “Why me? What did I or anyone else do to deserve this?” But, I have such an amazing support system that help keep me positive and pushes me everyday. I have three beautiful kids and a husband who needs me and that’s all that matters.
My advice for other women is to be your own advocate. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut. My cancer was misdiagnosed twice and I ended up diagnosed at stage 3, losing my entire left breast and all my lymph nodes on that side. Also, make sure to ask your doctor as many questions as possible and do your research (in a safe place, not Dr. Google) so you know exactly what to talk to the doctor about. I wish I would’ve pushed even more than I did with my lump. I should’ve gone to another facility after the second doctor told me it was hormonal and the lump would go away. But my cancer didn’t go away. Now, I advocate for myself by making sure I’m aware of changes in my body and asking all of my questions. In the end, I found a doctor in another state who makes me feel comfortable, that my needs are being met and are taking great care of me. I want to be confident in my doctors and feel like they are doing everything they can to help me get through this.
Lastly, I think it is important to remain positive and persevere. This life is worth living and you can’t let cancer stop you! – Lindsay Sightler
Click here to read Why Self-Advocacy is Empowering.