As a woman, there are a lot of times where medical professionals talk down your concerns. When I was 16 years old, and I told the doctor about the severe pain I was having in my stomach, I was told there was nothing wrong with me. After two years of the pain, a doctor told me I might have endometriosis, and there was nothing he could do for that. I believed him. After all, he was the professional. When I was 20 years old, I found a lump in my breast, and my fear was cancer. What else could it be? We aren’t taught about breast health or anything. I went in to see a professional, and all they told me was ‘I was too young to have breast cancer.’ Even though that was my fear, I never said that was my concern. She sent me to get an ultrasound and again the professional just kept telling me I was too young to have breast cancer. They didn’t tell me what my tenderness or pain was from. They dismissed everything I was trying to say to them.
For a year, I was unable to wear a bra because it would cause so much pain. For two years, the pain would wake me up and made relaxing uncomfortable. For three years, the pain was getting so uncomfortable I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to talk to my mother. I was scared to talk to my friends. I was afraid I would come across as overly dramatic. I finally got the gumption to go in for another check-up. My insurance was changing, and I knew I might not be able to go to planned parenthood after the change. I was nervous, I was nervous to be talked down to from them; to not have them thoroughly listen to me. I am known to shut down, and that is what I did. I barely talked to the medical assistant checking me. I barely spoke to the nurse that took my weight and blood pressure. I didn’t want to give them a reason to doubt me or stop listening. When my nurse practitioner came in, I didn’t make eye contact with her. I explained everything and I was waiting for ‘you’re too young to have cancer,’ but it never came.
What did come was listening, hearing, understanding and so much warmth throughout the appointment. I asked questions and she reassured me how an appointment should go. After telling me about my stuff, she talked about how as women we should never feel ashamed for wanting reassurance about our bodies. After the explanations were given and questions were asked, she asked me what I was doing after the appointment. I told her I had to take a test. After 10 minutes, we were talking about the climate in which she works, and I aspire to work in. After the appointment was over, she gave me a hug. In the past, I have wanted to cry during and after my appointments out of frustration, but I have never almost burst into years because of someone caring and listening to me. When I got all my stuff together and walked out of the examining room, she was waiting for me. She told me never to be ashamed of your body. It is your body. She hugged me and said she is thankful to have met me.
As women, our bodies are subjects for decisions and laws. After a while, I think we forget that our bodies are ours, that we have the right to choose what we do with them. As a community, we are not laws, we are not property, and we are not up for discussions with you when you aren’t willing to allow us to the table. We are humans, we are strong, we are capable, and we are deserving of the fundamental right to take care of our bodies without someone talking down to us. I never thought a doctor’s appointment would change me as much as it did and it had nothing to do with anything medical.