Be your own health advocate

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, October 25, 2023

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To the editor:

I would like to urge anyone with a medical problem to take seriously your condition and be your own advocate. If you have questions and concerns that your doctor doesn’t address to your satisfaction don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion or change doctors. My own personal situation is a perfect example of the need to listen to your own thoughts and do what you feel is best.

In December 2015 I became a fulltime patient of a local doctor that I had seen before. I had in my groin a small knot the size of my smallest fingernail. I asked my doctor to remove it or send me to someone who would. The doctor said it was hidradentis suppurativa and that it wasn’t necessary to remove it and that where it was located made removal a severe problem.

As the years went by the knot grew larger and as I saw my doctor every six months for a checkup, blood lab work, and prescription refills I often commented to my doctor that I wasn’t comfortable with the knot and its growth. I questioned about cancer several times and commented that often benign knots can turn malignant. My doctor refused to remove it or send me to someone who would. The doctor never even offered to biopsy it. It eventually became three times larger than the size of a large thumbnail, and also a couple of smaller knots formed nearby.

In 2022, this doctor and I had a severe disagreement about the care of my older terminally ill sister and after I lost my temper was told to find myself another doctor. I gladly did. The new doctor agreed to refer me to a surgeon. The surgeon took one look and said it needs to come out. He removed it the next week. It was not hidradenitis suppurativa, it never had the tunnel symptoms, and its removal proved it could be removed without severe problems. The pathology report came back as a dermatofibrosarcoma, a slow-growing, usually nonspreading cancer. Another surgery the following week was done as a precaution to remove areas around the cancers. The pathology report after the second surgery showed no cancer. Hopefully it’s gone and won’t return and I am most fortunate and thankful. However, this cancer often does return so regular exams and monitoring are necessary.

For anyone reading this, think for yourself. Don’t fear to ask questions and make suggestions. Don’t always trust your doctor 100 percent. If it is a problem when you ask a question and make suggestions then you don’t have a problem — your doctor has a problem. No one is going to be a better advocate for you, than you. I learned this lesson the hard way.

Marcel Bane
Andalusia, Alabama