Self-advocacy means that you are speaking out or taking action on behalf of yourself. There are times in everyone’s life when we have to express our concerns or discontent about something that happens to, whether this involves personal or social relationships or our dealings with an institution.
From time to time, we may feel that what is happening to us in our cancer journey is not timely, appropriate or understandable. At times like this being vocal can result in clarification or change in how we are being received or treated. It may help us to get a second opinion, have a test repeated, have the specific treatment we are receiving re-evaluated, help us get into a clinical trial, or result in a better understanding of what is happening to us and why.
All of these outcomes may play an important role in how we experience journey from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship.
There are several organizations and resources that can help us better understand and use tools and techniques to change tehe course of our cancer journey. In some of these websites and blogs, cancer patients and survivor share their personal stories about self-advocacy – why they needed to engage in it, and what the outcomes were.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your personal self-advocacy story with us.
Kidney Cancer Canada provides a self-advocacy guide for kidney cancer patients, but most of the information is relevant to all cancer patients and survivors.
This Cancer Centre newsletter a section on self-advocacy tips that may help you navigate the cancer care system.
You can listen to an oncology social worker explain the basis of self-advocacy on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NZAqIuJY9U or get a list of all the issues and topics addressed by the Cancer Survivor Toolbox by going to the website of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.
Don Greenbaum, a lawyer and kidney cancer patient from Toronto, Ontario, shares his personal story on video and talks about the importance of self-advocacy during his cancer journey.
Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada’s guide helps breast cancer patients navigate the complex health care system through practical skills and resources.
The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship’s handbook is designed to assist you at many points in your cancer experience. You can use it upon diagnosis or refer to it many years later. Topics run from defining self-advocacy through diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.