My story for change
Women all over the world have shared their health stories so that we can help change the way we approach women’s health. Stories of dismissal, bias, misdiagnosis and indifference. Stories of strength, courage and hope. Stories that affirm the need for change in women’s health.
“I am a female doctor. I’ve had a few too many patients ask for “a second opinion” when they really meant a male opinion. On one such occasion, I had a junior doctor explain a diagnosis to a family as I stood behind him and spoke through him, using him as an elaborate megaphone, because they refused to hear it from me.”
“A ‘second opinion’”
"My father always told me I could be and do whatever I wanted to. I turned out to study medicine and chose surgery as my specialty. Nowadays it is still difficult to find a female role model that manages to be a successful surgeon and a mother. Another aspect is realizing how medicine has been tailored by men for men. From instrument grips being too big for our hands, from being often mistaken for the nurse by the patients. Many patients also shared with me how often they had their symptoms been neglected or referred to as not real. Our voices matter."
“Tailored by men for men”
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to have a double mastectomy, even though it was caught early. I had pre-cancerous formations on the unaffected side and felt it was a matter of time before I faced this battle again. Several providers questioned my 'radical' decision and asked if my husband agreed with my choice. I told them it was my choice because it was my body and he knew I would make the choice that was right for me. There needs to be greater sensitivity from providers around bodily autonomy, regardless of one's marital status.”
“A ‘radical decisions’”
“I had endometriosis that was left undiagnosed for about 5 years - by the time it was found I had a mass twice the size of my uterus. Multiple surgeries and rounds of hormone treatment couldn’t get the condition under control or reverse the damage done. I was perimenopausal at 29 and had a full hysterectomy at 33 which means I’ve been on HRT for more than 10 years now. I didn’t know endometriosis even existed until something was seriously wrong, if I had known maybe I wouldn’t be in this situation, still living with the physical and mental scars.”
“I didn’t know endometriosis even existed until something was seriously wrong.”
“It took hours of advocating for herself until she received lifesaving care.”
“I grew up in a privileged environment; both my parents, medical doctors led me to follow a career in pharmaceutical sciences. At uni, the only meaningful difference was biology between adults and children. While I recall the anecdotal paper on fast metabolization in some populations, it took my mother's heart attack to shake me and make me question our standard of care and education. My mother, a biracial medical doctor was grossly dismissed by her peers. It took hours of advocating for herself until she received lifesaving care.”
“My periods were very painful from the start.”
“My periods were very painful from the start. My mom and grandma also had that and doctors also told me it's normal for some women to have painful periods, so I stopped even mentioning it and just stuck through even though I was suffering every month despite painkillers. It was only when I was having trouble getting pregnant in my 30s that I was diagnosed with endometriosis. Even the expert on it told me this condition is hardly known and there is little that can be done.”
“My body was giving signals.”
"I received a Stage 3, triple positive breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, Valentine's Day. I am not the type to joke with my health. My body was giving signals. Unfortunately, my doctors did not know what to do prior to the diagnosis. According to them, I was too young, my OB-doctor's SBE 6 months prior ruled out any lumps. 6 months later I was receiving a diagnosis. Stage 3, metastatic to the lymph nodes. Today I am 6 years free. However, I choose to be an advocate. I encourage others to be body aware, and know how to advocate for themselves."

A note to our readers

This website contains personal views of healthcare experiences encountered by women. The stories collected by Roche in relation to My Story For Change are intended to bring awareness to women’s healthcare experiences. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of the stories are their own and do not represent the views or opinions of Roche. Roche does not make any representation or warranty with respect to the accuracy of the stories displayed on this website. The stories shared are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have concerns or questions regarding your health and wellbeing, please get in touch with a healthcare professional and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in accessing it because of the content of this website. Moreover, some of the personal stories may be upsetting or triggering. Some of the content includes mentions of childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, death, illness, mental health, and/or abuse.

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