Earlier this month I had my first visit to my new local gynecologist, and I am almost ashamed to say it… It was also my first visit ever to one. I am now a month away from turning 35 and married. As an African American female that has been surrounded by family members that have worked in the Health Care industry my entire life; including some of my aunts, cousins my grandmother and even my mother the fact it took me so long to go is offensive. My oldest best friend is even a doctor!
However, I am woman enough to admit my truth. I corrected the error and made my appointment to be examined and to learn if I had any issues, so I could move forward without the fear of the unknown.
As a result of the exam, I did learn I do have an issue that I want to have corrected. By the grace of God, other than that one issue, though I have learned is a common one for women of childbearing age, I have a perfect bill of health.
After receiving the report, I was a bit shocked. I even shed a silent tear. However as I posted on Facebook to my network (please see my status update below), I was surprised at how much personal health was not discussed amongst my female relatives while I was growing up; especially, Women’s related health.
“I just have to quickly share this… Ladies, it is so important that you share your personal health history with your daughters and nieces. I am a child of older parents, meaning when my parents had me they were considered older. They were both in their early 40s. Nowadays a woman having a child in her 40s is not so unheard of. However, both my parents were also born in the 1930s and were African American. Many topics that we talk about now in regards to health were taboo when they were growing up or even when they had me. They both only went to the doctor when they had symptoms that home remedies could not cure or make manageable.
Right now, I am working on tracing the roots of my genetic health history from the comments and conversations I had with my mother and other female relatives so I can make an educated and wise decision. My mother is deceased so I cannot ask her personally. However, thankfully for godly wisdom and praying for remembrance I may have just unlocked a HUGE piece of information that has given me so much understanding. I feel actually so empowered now. If you are like I was a bit ignorant on the topic of women’s health, please visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/ and visit with the little girls in your life http://www.girlshealth.gov/
Both websites have a wealth of information. #LOVEFORWARD”
As the result of my personal research, I learned that what I had thought initially was not genetic, was. I also learned from speaking to my best girlfriends, some of them had also had challenges with it; even their mothers. However, no one actually ever talked about it. So, for years they suffered in silence.
I am not going into detail because; quite honestly I am still building up my own faith as I prepare to learn what my treatment options are for what I have.
Once I do, please trust me that there will indubitably be a part two to this article. As I said to my sisters (of kinship and friendship), this cycle of silence and ignorance ends with me; I will undoubtedly begin to speak candidly with my female relatives and friends about women’s health.
I will ask those questions that used to be taboo questions in our community because to be quite honest God did not give any of us the spirit of fear.
Not taking the necessary steps towards knowing your personal health and history, especially when you have been blessed to have health insurance is not sufficient.
© 2013, Lela Jefferson Fagan. All rights reserved.