Four years ago, my good friend Amy Bybee and I had an idea to create a women's health organization. We both experienced obstacles to wellness and it came down to a simple truth, when healthcare providers don't listen there is a ripple effect on families, and positive health outcomes. Everyone we talked to had a story. And we knew that the data would show that when we listen, it would reduce costs and increase wellness.
Then COVID hit. And we all know how survival was the priority above all else.
Four years later, the stories continue, and I am on a mission. Her Health Matters. Your Health matters. The health of your daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers matter.
I am asking you, have you ever had a situation where your voice was ignored and a negative health outcome resulted?
100% of women I have talked to say yes…and let me tell you a story. Usually, when I ask this question, there is an expression and laugh. Universally, 9/10 women respond the same way.
Take a story like Laura's. I met Laura while trying to solve my own health issue. I was in terrible pain. Doctors were telling me it was all “part of menopause and in a few years I would be through it”. I looked for alternative therapies and tried cryotherapy, a freezing technique to dull the incredible pain I had. That is where I met Laura. In my Midwest-friendly usual way, we got to talking, and I asked her if she had ever experienced a doctor not listening to her.
Her story is so incredible. And yet…it is not. You see, there are stories like Laura's out there and women aren't sharing, don't know what to do and are having negative outcomes. Even death.
Laura was having terrible pain in her abdomen. She went to the doctor who told her she was depressed. She expressed that no, she wasn't depressed, she was in severe pain. The doctor discounted her. Wanted to prescribe anti-depressants and send her on her way. The pain continued until it got so bad, Laura went to a friend who was a general surgeon. She told him she needed to fix whatever was happening, and it resulted in surgery.
The outcome? Laura had a hernia that passed through a hole that destroyed 85% of her esophagus. She cannot eat like a normal person anymore. Her quality of life was changed forever because she was dismissed. What is worse to imagine is, the outcome could have been fatal. I am happy to say I recently saw Laura again, and she continues to be a positive person, looking for ways to take care of herself with activities such as yoga.
The reality is women have complex health needs beyond going to an OBGYN and there are no screenings for things like lung cancer and other diseases. Our health is put into a category, often times we are told we are depressed, or imagining the illness.
Take my daughter's friend who had abdominal pain. She was told over and over it was nothing. She has been battling cancer that has been racing through her 24-year-old body because her concerns were discounted. She lives in New York City, one of the best places to provide care, and yet her life was put in jeopardy. This has a preventable cure if they had listened to her earlier.
If you have been listening to this podcast, you have heard me share that I have two amazing daughters, both with rare diseases. I have been navigating the healthcare landscape for 2 years for my oldest daughter and have witnessed how doctors have dismissed legitimate symptoms.
One neurologist told my daughter, without examining her and sitting 10 feet away from her “At some point, you need to decide to get well”. A hidden fact I have learned of the healthcare system is that doctors can restrict access to other doctors. Because of this, we had to change health systems entirely to get her care. After a spinal tap, they discovered she has 4x the CSF fluid in her brain. That is not something you can wish away. It is a rare medical condition called, Intracranial Hypertension.
Have you had something similar happen to you or a loved one? I can say that my career working in healthcare helped me to know a lot about a lot of things. As a determined mother and advocate, I will not stop until my daughter is back to a thriving young woman.
In a recent discussion with Dr. Nicole T. Rochester, I shared how I started “dressing up” to go to the doctor’s offices as if I was in a business meeting so that my daughter's health would be taken seriously.
What happens to the millions of women who don't know how to navigate the system, who need healthcare and aren't able to qualify for clinical trials or other treatments?
We can do better. We must do better.
You may be thinking of a situation about yourself or as a caregiver when you needed care, and it didn't happen. The burden of care might be falling on your shoulders, and you have pushed your own health needs to the side. Perhaps you have an aging parent who has dementia or Alzheimer’s, or young children who need your focus. Whatever your situation, your health matters.
It can be difficult to find support and a community that will lift you up.
Through the amazing experience of getting to know Dr. Nicole T. Rochester and having our Embrace Equity panel, I realized, now is the time to act.
If you haven't listened to Dr. Nicole's story on HerCsuite™ Radio, take a listen, her story of caring for her father first as a daughter, and then having to step into being a physician to be heard reinforces how we need to take action.
The thread in the desire to make an impact 4 years ago winds through to all of us today. We are all interconnected with a desire for wellness. Whatever that looks like for you. Perhaps it is about your own health or someone you care for. Wellness is a birthright. For all people, and especially for women. Without Exception.
This has been 4 years in the making and now we are creating a movement for her health equity.
Join us on this journey April 17th and hear from our Her Health Equity Council Co-Chairs as they share with you their stories and why women's health matters to all of us.
Together we can do great things, if we change how we go about doing it!
Thank you for spending your time with me today. Please share this with a woman you know who needs to hear this.
This podcast is sponsored by Her Health Equity Council.
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HerPower2, Inc, | CGO HerCsuite™ | Podcast Host HerCsuite™
Natalie founded Herpower2, inc. to create products under HerCsuite™ to empower women to make a lasting impact today and into the future. She takes a ‘serve first’ approach to life and has applied this principle throughout her career, serving in leadership positions in business as well as non-profit organizations.
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