In focus: Women in healthcare decision making; how they balance between emotional and physical strength?

When women become sensibly responsible towards their health; such decisions not just affect their futures but also their families

Let me help it explain through a couple of true stories.

The stories are real and based in India.

Both the stories share commonalities as they speak of the women diagnosed with cancer and their take on it. You would be able to find, it’s either the family or the woman shaping the decision…

Uh, well! Let’s begin..

The first one is about Reetha, a young and jubilant college girl in her early 20s. She is beautiful and known for her kindness. She has a bright mind and used to be in top ranks during her college days.

Everything was going on well in her life. She was perfectly happy with whatever she had. However, the very fact that she was diagnosed with uterine cancer, shattered her.

She couldn’t see life as she used to earlier, even if she tried harder. She lost all or any reasons to smile.

She was suggested by her specialist to undergo uterus removal. With this, she found some rays of hope that she would survive. She wasn’t financially unstable. She could afford the costs for surgery or whatever it takes.

But, as life has it’s own twist and turns for each of us. It didn’t spare Reetha as well.

Her parents belonged to a very traditional family with their peculiar ancestral mindsets. They took it as an offence to the clan and their community for their daughter to go through uterus removal.

Even worse was when her boyfriend, whom she loved so dearly refused to accept her if she ever does any such treatments. He stated that they couldn’t have child if she undergoes uterine cancer.

You see!. She clearly couldn’t find support in any form. Her confidence eroded and she developed possible guilt of hurting her parents if she did that. Further, she would also lose the love of her life with this.

She spoke to the specialist explaining the same. The doctor responded saying that these are notions that needs to be broken..She should firstly get the treatment done and then with time, their attitude may change.

However, Reetha knew how firm her parents and her beau were in their words.

Amidst all these , she was in a dillema as to what’s the right thing to go about. It certainly seems certain to us as we read these that the girl must be a fool to not do the needed and putting her life at stake for her family and love. I thought in similar lines as well, but since it’s real life and no fiction, we can’t change the truth on her actions that she took. Sad!

The doctor asked her to do chemotherapy sessions, to which Reetha agreed. She also joined yoga and meditation classes and started visiting temples where they do regular kirtanas and hymn chantings.

With these, she eventually stopped going for chemotherapy sessions despite her doctor making repeated calls to her. Due to this, her health started deteriorating even more.

All that she was doing was just to be in good books of her boyfriend and to not offend her family.

She couldn’t be decisive enough.

Once, she asked her medical social worker, if she was right in taking such decisions. The social worker didn’t want to make Reetha feel bad about her insanely wrong decisions, at least when she knew Reetha’s health was deteriorating faster.

She responded saying , “If you have done this, this cannot be wrong. You must have thought a lot to come across such decisions”. This was just to comfort Reetha who had nobody to take care of her.

The very evening, she was found dead. Reetha died of uterine cancer.

The second story is about Yuni, who is in her 40s. She is a teacher by profession and stays with her husband, two sons and a daughter. While her sons are quite young and in school, her daughter has just qualified for medical entrance exams and aspires to become a doctor in future.

Once, a family friend of her to get done with her full body check-up, since Apollo, one the highly reputed hospitals had an offer of full body test at an affordable price.

Yuni okayed.

She underwent the test just as a normal full body check-up. She didn’t really consider if she might be having any such health issues.

However, she was diagnosed with the first stage of cervical cancer.

She was shocked and saddened. It was due to her friend’s help, she could get an appointment fixed with one of the best experienced doctors in the field.

She got her tissue transferred to the lab. In due course of her appointment, she was told that she was lucky enough to know of it at quite an earlier stage. She could save herself from cancer provided she took the medicines and doses regularly for the given period of time.

The irony, however, is that she didn’t inform this to her husband or to her children. She kept it to herself and her family friend who helped her out by just casually asking her to undergo such a check-up.

What made her hide it from her family?

She could have at least shared it with her husband. However, she was afraid how hurt her husband would be, if encounters such news. Even though he gets to know of the fact, he would definitely take care of her well. But, for how long? She wondered! She thought to herself that there would come a time when he would be tired of doing so and may start considering her a burden.

Yuni didn’t want this.

Nextly, she thought her daughter is just going to start her new journey as a medical student. And that she would be broke to hear of her mother’s such a grave health issue as fighting cancer.

Yuni started taking medicines regularly and started practicing yoga and such things to keep her life positive. In a span of about six months, she again visited the doctor. The doctor responded saying that she is progressing well. She doesn’t need an operation and that she just needed to be regular in taking medicines.

Yuni thought she could now share about it to her family, since she was assured that she was out of danger.

The above stories take us through serious rolls of life. The second narration showed how her ability to be patient and strong help herself as well as her family.

This, however doesn’t draw the lesson that we should hide things from family in cases of serious issues. It all depends on us and our situation and our way of taking decisions considering the factors at hand.

Hence, it’s imperative for women to be alert and informed about their health, since it can adversely impact upon their on selves as well as their families when realized lately.

Also, one should consider life to be more important than mere prejudices and should break such stereotypes whenever confronted with.

The stories aren’t merely stories but lives; there is no such conclusion but the learning part drawndfrom them ought to be thought upon well and reflected.

Remember, nothing like a good health

A writer, local guide, fitness freak, environmental enthusiast, a social worker....

One thought on “In focus: Women in healthcare decision making; how they balance between emotional and physical strength?

  1. Very touching. Very moving. And lost, as there are no easy answers. A stifling society in both cases. People on LinkedIn don’t usually see such articles.

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