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Your business - the advocate
Mommy Musings 6-12-24

I’m so passionate about this week’s topic, that quite honestly I’d rather approach it as a Live TedTalk for every set of eyes this falls upon, because it’s just that important.

For those who know me personally, you know I can be passionate to a fault and this is most definitely a topic I am passionate about. My worry/frustration is the realization that sharing these words here is not fun, or chic or even attention grabbing. What it is and can be, however, is life-saving.

So what exactly could be so important, what could make a girl so passionate that she is willing to share so much with so many on her personal journey?

This is a column space, after all, which most journalists use to share opinions or anecdotes, yet rarely are revealing on things which are close to the heart and personal.

If you’ve made it this far, without yet knowing what has me so fired up, I simply ask one favor: read it through and then, share with those who need it.

So what’s this “topic” I find so groundbreakingly important?

Well since I can’t gather you all together one night in an upcoming week for a hometown TedTalk with T, here it is. We must advocate for ourselves.

Hold on now, stay with me. This isn’t some soap box speech on all of our rights and all that sort of political stuff. This is about our health and the medical system.

Anyone who’s tried to get a doctor’s appointment or be seen by a medical professional in any shape or fashion knows this one simple fact - they are overwhelmed. But guess what? That’s not your problem.

I’m not here to coach anyone on bad behavior to get treated. Actually to the contrary. I’m here to share some personal experiences and the results of what happened, as well as what I was told by doctors, nurses, schedulers and the like.

When I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer (4 being terminal for those unfamiliar with “Stages” of cancer) in 2020, I faced what was a humbling yet empowering realization. It was time for me to open a new business. That business, as I told many in the field, was the business of saving my own life.

Sound dramatic? Well I guess it could, but here was the thing, I realized early on I needed to take the emotion and fear out of it and proceed in a positive way as I would in business. Building relationships, staying positive and proactive. Treating each and every person I encountered as an ally for building a strong and successful business; aka my health and my life.

Years ago a colleague who always seemed to get the interviews she chased with little resistance told me, “You get more with sugar than vinegar.” It’s an old saying of course, but one I had never heard.

Not only did it make sense, but it stuck. So as I began this journey of doctor’s appointments, blood tests, screenings, testing and treatment I took that wisdom with me. So much so that one time after being given the runaround to get my treatment started I found myself on the phone with the receptionist of the cancer treatment center. She too had become frustrated with the orders, the doctor and good ol’ insurance.

As we spoke she thanked me for being kind (despite the frustration) and for being patient. At the time I told her something I still feel today. She was just as important to my team as the doctor was. Having her work with me was just as critical as anyone else. She after all was the gate keeper between me and everyone I needed to help me get well. She also had a lot of insight and wisdom which she would share periodically as we together tried to navigate the early days of this crazy journey known as battling cancer.

Yes I understand, not everyone is kind and helpful. Not everyone will take the time to help you or offer advice or insight. But guess what, it’s not their journey - it’s yours. It’s up to you to decide how much time and control are you willing to dedicate to your overall outcome and health versus how much are you going to surrender to the medical team.

Read that again.

We are talking about professionals that are admittedly overwhelmed in their field. They are also human and as we all know any one of us, even medical professionals, can have a bad day.

Since that diagnosis and openly sharing since 2020 I have been contacted by many asking a number of things to help them through their own hurdles and journey. Without fail I tell each and every one the same things. First have a notebook solely used for the purpose of documenting all conversations, dates and names of every person you talk to (this includes insurance calls). Second don’t rely on a stranger who is paid to be on the other side of the phone to treat your case as urgent as it is to you; it’s your life. Next remember to take emotion out of it (especially anger) more times than not. The person you are speaking to did not wish this upon you or put you in this position - it’s life and life isn’t always fair but we must roll with it one way or another.

Lastly, stay determined, empower yourself and work with the “tools” that you have. The “tools” can be your insurance (call them), your medical team or your friend who went through something similar or knows someone who did. Stay hungry for resolve.

As I type this I am still advocating for myself and I won’t stop.

Just this past week members of my medical team kindly informed me how inspired they were by my “upbeat attitude,” my “bright smile” and my ability to remain focused and keep them on track. Funny.

These are people who have dedicated their lives and education to help people just like me, yet I’m inspiring them.

At the end of the day, it’s not about being the hero, being better or worse than someone else; it’s about business. The business of advocating and caring for your health and your life. Stay strong and build that team.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 209-847-3021.