The Value of SELF ADVOCACY
The most important lesson to learn going into post-secondary as a survivor is this: self advocacy. Read Noah's own take about what it means to be a self advocate.
As a survivor, there are many obstacles that we have to overcome. Our cancer journey doesn't stop with our treatment; it is something that continues for the rest of our lives. This everlasting journey can encourage us to become our own advocates or it could piss us off and cause us to isolate ourselves. I have chosen to not let my medical history limit me or my success. To me this means that I am accountable to myself. I am responsible for my own well-being and success. I am able to direct myself towards services that will mean I receive the best support and care possible. I advocate for myself to get the services and support I need, whether it is as simple as self referring to a service such as SAVTI or an active conversation between myself and my physicians.
In my school environment self-advocacy can mean that I choose to disclose and discuss my disabilities with my professors, support staff and the accessibility office. Choosing to disclose these things ensures that I get the services that I need in order to be successful and have the same advantages as others. Making the decision to do so is a way for me to be the best self advocate possible, and ensures I receive the supports I need through the accessibility services office as well as from professors. Living in residence during my first year allowed me to further practice self advocacy as I found it was essential for me to develop an open line of communication between myself and the floor supervisor to get support if I needed it.
It is most important for me to become the best self advocate medically in order to keep track of my health. With countless late-effects and the multiple physicians who look after them it is important for me to communicate effectively with these teams in order to receive the best care possible. This can be following up over the telephone or asking them the right questions during appointments, or even advocating for additional appointments if I feel that I need a more regular appointment schedule. I take charge of my healthcare by writing relevant information in a book to share and discuss with my health team. It helps me remember and keep relevant information in order.
It isn’t challenging to become your own advocate. Sometimes the best thing that you can do is ask for help when you need it. As a person, a patient, and a survivor you know what is best for you. You are the expert. It’s important that you share how you feel and how you’re doing with your healthcare team. Self advocacy means that you are actively looking after yourself in every way possible. This is most important as you meet new challenges such as post-secondary school, a new job, a new hospital and especially as you begin to take charge of your own healthcare. Asking the right questions, pursuing the right services and looking after yourself is important to do no matter where you go. Just remember that being your own advocate doesn’t mean that you are always right either. But it does mean that you are willing to push for what you need and deserve.