Healthcare & Choices: Part 1

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"Power over others is weakness disguised as strength."
—Eckhart Tolle

Just like cancer, greed, hate and oppression mutate. Each start off as one rogue cell with a bad attitude that is beholding to no other.  It then infects the functioning of the whole causing disease in the entire body. Cancer chronically knows no bounds, and treatment must be just as ruthless to restore health. In a compassionate and caring society, those of us who are doing better are charged with the responsibility to contribute to the support of those who are less fortunate and less able, so that they can become empowered to choose what is best for themselves. Such a position is descent, respectful and progressive! Education and access is always the better choice over exclusivity and a lack of information. From the start, if healthcare professionals can gather as much information as possible, then support and encourage patients to actively participate in their own care, the results towards complete health are most possible. This is an attitude that has been further confirmed by my up close and personal cancer experience. 

Not everyone has health insurance or access to healthcare. Free clinics and emergency rooms are havens for those who have limited to no access. Some such institutions that offer services to patients who are seeking care and education are under attack. As a society, to ensure that these fundamental rights and possibilities exist for all people makes us stronger and a better nation. It is important that women are also extended healthcare support without prejudice, regardless of circumstance, and without any assumptions of what they may want to decide for themselves.  Such personal and informed decisions are for all of us to make on our own. Political ideologies, egotistical attitudes, downright divisive positions, vitriolic rhetoric, and simply being crappy or exclusive towards others in the pursuit of power and/or money is not the way. At the pinnacle of service, the healthcare industry and proper healthcare must not only be better, but be fully accessible to all of us — and the exhibition of humanity within that process is imperative!

·  How is it that caring for the lives of others too often does not actually care for the lives of others?

·  How can the inability to make one's own choices about one’s own body and care be tolerated as healthy?

·  Personal choice, plus informed and accessible options are essential elements in the mix of healthcare.

I chose a second opinion that saved my life. This sounds dramatic however, my original doctor who within 15 minutes of our initial meeting, gave me a cancer diagnosis, then attempted to schedule me for a quick lumpectomy without getting to know who I was, or what else was happening in my body or in my life. And the more questions that I had, the less this doctor answered. It felt as if he didn't appreciate being questioned or challenged. Overall, I didn't believe that he was vested in me, nor in my complete well-being. So, by saying “NO!” to this doctor, I instantly became an active participant in my treatment plan and in my own healing. I went elsewhere for a second opinion. With more information, my second opinion team and I were better able and most aggressive as well as strategic which not only saved my life, but empowered and grounded me as much as I could have been to choose for myself. My choice was not only the medical team who saw me and not merely a disease, but a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, but NO radiation - thank you very much!

My doctors were comfortable with my choice. Ultimately, it was my decision to make. MY body, MY say and MY consent. So, whether it is in regards to cancer treatment, surgery, birth control and/or an abortion, or sex even, when you, I, or anyone else says “No”, it means “No”, and “Yes” means “Yes”. I made my choice and I will live with that decision according to MY beliefs. Anything else is a violation of my personal rights! All people have the right to live in peace as themselves, PERIOD! So, the idea of what a woman “is” or "should" choose, what I as a cancer patient “should” do, or be, has no bearing on the type of woman or cancer patient that I am, or anyone else is for that matter. I define me! With information and understanding, we are capable of making informed decisions for our own good.

Overall, until HEALTH CARE —which includes women's health, is forever secured, regarded as possibly different, equal AND worthy of the highest quality, much will be left unresolved. When our capability to choose in all capacities is fully secured nationwide by health insurance, we will be more equal in our treatments and care. Securing the reality for any woman in any state to have the same freedom to decide whether or not, when or how, she chooses what is right for her, without an elitist judgement, we will move out of the dark ages, and into the age of reason and fulfillment. Otherwise, we are doomed to repeat the same old arguments and produce the same horrible alternatives including among them physical atrocities and psychological ramifications. With the benefit of the lessons of the past, we are challenged to move forward and become better. If our institutions continue to repeat previous mistakes and remain stuck with practices that hold us captive, the adherence to such a position will prevent us from forward progress. Such an attitude is wasteful and dangerous to the health and recovery of all individuals —especially those with failing health, and that is unconscionable! This, I know for sure.


Teri Gandy-Richardson