Cancer patients: be your own advocate

Heart framing on woman chest with pink badge

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Breast cancer affects mostly women, but it also has an impact on the lives of family members and loved ones.

Natalia Gomez is a mother of twin boys. She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in November 2012. After the diagnosis, she took genetic testing to find out – to her doctor’s surprise – she is BRAC 1. That means she has genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. Her oncologist suggested she have a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy. Since then, she has been cancer free in her breast.

In November 2014, Gomez was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. She didn’t have any symptoms except for severe back pain. Her family physician did not do any exams, so Gomez when to the emergency room, where an attentive doctor listened to her cancer history and took action.

Gomez says the experience has been tough for her family, but it has taught her to be an advocate for herself. Where they are many good doctors, she says there are also some who lack communication skills and don’t educate the patient properly. She says she will fight for legislation that requires doctors who have patients with a cancer history to educate them about genetic counseling. She also wants a law that requires insurance companies to include coverage for genetic testing for patients with a family history of cancer.

>>> COMPLETE COVERAGE: Are You Dense?

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