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  • Writer's pictureMindy McCarthy

Be Your Own Advocate

The news and sports these days seem to be filled with advocacy of some kind whether it is social justice reform, equal rights, etc. This got me thinking about advocacy on a smaller scale for us individually.

My mom has recently been enduring some health difficulties. As someone who also works for a functional doctor and prefers to use more natural methods as well as clear explanations about what is happening, I have been frustrated hearing my mom relay the information that her doctor has been telling her.

During this global pandemic, my mom has had to go to each of her doctor’s appointments alone due to the office not allowing any additional family members to be with her. This is frustrating to think that someone who is in a lot of pain and seems to be forgetful frequently has to sit there and listen to a doctor by herself without another person there listening for her. I have encouraged her to call someone when she is in the office or even FaceTime us (thank goodness for technology), but she said doctors seem to get frustrated with her taking the time to chat with someone else about what is going on and what the doctor is saying.

This is absolutely infuriating! I know we are all under a lot of stress right now and doctors are having to do things a little differently than they have before, but it is awful hearing that they are getting frustrated with taking some extra time to chat with another person about what is going on when my mom is not in a state of mind to fully absorb all of the information being thrown at her.

I have even tried reviewing my mom’s blood work results from the dozens of tests that she has endured, but she has gotten various responses from different doctors about why it is not uploaded on her portal yet. My mom’s own property is not uploaded to her own portal for her to review and share with whomever she wants. It just does not make sense to me.

This has led to me encouraging my mom over and over again to be her own advocate. As a patient in this situation, she has to speak up for herself demanding answers (in lay person terms not medical terms), demanding that she has the chance to call someone else during these appointments, and demanding that her own blood work results are uploaded where she can see them herself.

I could keep going on and on about our current health “care” system, but that is not what I am discussing today!

The need for self advocacy is also true for young athletes at many levels of their sport. Unfortunately in our national sports news, there have been several stories where athletes needed to be their own advocates whether they were speaking up about abuses from coaches, trainers, counselors, etc. This is even true for more minor cases like a high school student talking to a coach about what he or she is doing to help the athlete gain exposure for college coaches.

I think there are many young athletes who think that they do not have a right to speak their minds about what is being done to help their exposure or even asking questions about what they may be doing in practice and how that translates to games. This can lead to the athlete feeling disconnected from their team or even losing passion about the sport that they once loved.

The truth is I think that we need to encourage these athletes to speak their minds about what they would like to see from people they are working with and show respect to. Encourage these conversations to be made, so athletes learn how to stand up for themselves and be their own advocate. This is another life skill that athletes can learn from playing sports because they learn how to ask questions, how to continue learning about something they are passionate about, and how to make sure they are not being taken advantage of by people who are supposed to be advocates for them.

As adults working with these athletes, we need to encourage them to have these conversations with their mentors. You can even help these athletes rehearse the conversation with these coaches or whomever they would like to chat with helping them build their confidence to have these conversations.

Everyone has the right to be their own advocate. How are we going to encourage the next generation to do so?

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