“Then don’t get a hysterectomy.” he said. I had no desire to and after expressing this to my GYN he said, “But I want to tell you something else. A couple weeks ago we had a woman in here with a family history similar to yours and she got a hysterectomy, after her surgery the pathology report showed that she had aggressive cancer on her tubes. She was very lucky, we saved her life”.
This story was meant to make me reconsider my decision. I responded with “Wow, that’s a powerful story. I’m really happy to hear how well things turned out for her. Knowing when it’s the right time to make those tough decisions is everything. Right now, I don’t feel like surgery is the right decision for me.”
I can hardly sit still enough to type this next part out, it burns me at the core, but here it goes. He proclaimed, quite defensively actually, more than necessary in fact for the conversation we were having that “She did it because we TOLD her to. She did it because WE advised her to do it. We saved her life.”
Completely caught off guard, I took a deep breath to calm the shock I was feeling and stated that I had experienced something similar during my breast cancer treatment, when I made the painful decision to get a double mastectomy. But before I could even get to the heart of my story, he leaned back, folded his arms across his chest and said “Women don’t innately know they have cancer.”
I value education and medicine and I’m grateful for the countless hours practitioners have spent learning their craft and developing their skills. And, off course medical advice is crucial to the care and treatment of cancer, I am not discounting any of that knowledge, I am so grateful for it, it has saved countless lives, including my own and I hope it continues to save many more.
However, none of that should be separate from the person and the body in front of them. What needs to be equally addressed is the Woman, the wisdom she carries in her own body and the ability she has to make decisions with regard to her own body and the care she receives.
That is how informed consent works.
I’ll be following up this post with a letter for the woman in this story so please keep an eye out for it, I’ll probably post a video about it too, along with my story and the decision I made WITH my medical team years ago that saved my life. Please feel free to share your story or thoughts on informed consent, or being dismissed for care by your provider, not being believed, etc. and use the hashtag #callitout