If you make excuses for symptoms you’ve noticed, or for not telling your doctor, clinic nurse or health worker, you could be playing with your life.
It’s easy to make excuses and think symptoms are nothing to worry about because:
- I’m just getting older
- I’m working too hard
- It’s probably just…something else
- My old diet’s finally working!
- I’ll be ‘right
It’s easy to make excuses for not telling your doctor, nurse or health worker and think:
- I’m too busy to take time to go to the doctor, nurse or health worker
- I have to travel too far to see a doctor, nurse or health worker
- I’ll be wasting the doctor, nurse or health workers’ time
- I’m worried about what the doctor, nurse or health worker might find
- I’m scared about taking the test
- I’m too embarrassed to take the test or talk about my symptoms
- I’ve already seen a doctor, nurse or health worker about my symptoms but they haven’t gone away
- Shouldn’t I just wait and see if things clear up on their own?
- I’m tough enough to manage my own symptoms
Don’t fool yourself – tell your doctor, nurse or health worker if you notice anything different with your body.
I’m just getting older
Often people blame changes to their bodies on the fact that they are getting older. Although getting old does cause changes, it is important to know your body and recognise any that are unusual or long-lasting. Even if you’re not worried, it is safer to tell your doctor, nurse or health worker about any changes or symptoms you find.
I’m working too hard
It is normal to feel tired or worn out due to work commitments from time to time. But if you find that you are constantly tired or lacking in energy it is important to let your doctor or health worker know. Sometimes it’s easy to blame a lack of energy on work or other commitments, but if you notice a big change in your energy levels, tell your doctor, nurse or health worker.
It’s probably just…something else
If you notice an unusual change to your body or a possible symptom don’t make excuses for it! Sometimes people blame symptoms on a condition they already have or try to find a reason for them. Changes to your body can be caused by many different things but it is important to tell your doctor or health worker about any persistent (long-lasting) symptoms you notice. Your doctor is trained to recognise symptoms and they will want to know of any changes that happen to you.
My old diet’s finally working!
Small weight changes over time are normal. But if you have noticeably lost weight, without recent dieting or exercising more, you should talk to your doctor, nurse or health worker. Even if you’re not worried about it, it’s safer to tell them about any changes or symptoms you notice.
I’ll be ‘right
Sometimes people ignore their symptoms or think that they will go away in time. But a change or symptom is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. It is important to recognise any changes and tell your doctor, nurse or health worker. Even if you’re not worried about it, it’s better to get it checked out and be on the safe side.
I’m too busy to take time to go to see a doctor, nurse or health worker
Sometimes people find it difficult to find the time to see a doctor or Aboriginal health worker. But if you’ve noticed anything unusual about yourself, it’s important that you get it checked, sooner rather than later. There are some things we just need to make time for.
Many doctors’ surgeries offer early or late appointment times so if you’ve not been to the doctor or health worker for a while, check with them to find out their opening hours. If you’re not able to make it to the surgery, find out whether you could speak to a doctor or health worker over the phone.
Getting through to a receptionist to make an appointment can sometimes be difficult. But don’t be put off if you don’t get through the first time – keep trying until you get the appointment you want.
I have to travel too far to see a doctor, nurse or health worker
Long distances can sometimes be a reason why people don’t see their doctor, nurse or Aboriginal health worker straight away. But if you have noticed any of the possible symptoms then you should make the effort to see them. If it’s nothing serious, then seeing the doctor can save you lots of worry. But if it is something more serious you can feel confident that you made the effort and acted early. When cancer is found early it’s usually easier to treat successfully.
The Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) is available to permanent residents of WA Country Health Service regions in some circumstances. These include needing to travel more than 100km one way to access your closest eligible medical specialist service (including Telehealth services) and needing to travel more than 70km to access cancer or renal treatment. For more information, visit the PATS website.
I’ll be wasting the doctor, nurse or health workers’ time
Many people are unsure whether or not to see their doctor, nurse or Aboriginal health worker and worry about wasting their time. But you shouldn’t worry. If you’ve developed any of the possible symptoms of cancer or noticed something different about your body, your health professional will want to know.
Remember that they are there to help you. And if you think you need to go back to see them because your symptoms haven’t gone away, or they’ve changed or got worse, go back. Don’t worry about wasting their time, it could be important.
I’m worried about what the doctor, nurse or health worker might find
Sometimes, people don’t go to the doctor, nurse or Aboriginal health worker because they are scared of what they might find. But unless you go and get yourself checked out, you won’t know whether it’s anything serious or not. You have nothing to lose by going, but you could have everything to gain. If it is something serious, finding it early and getting treatment started can really make a difference.
I’m scared about taking the test
Sometimes, people can be nervous about taking a test or being examined and worry that it might be painful. Let your doctor or health worker know how you’re feeling so they can explain to you what is involved and help to reassure you about the procedure. Some tests may be uncomfortable but a small amount of discomfort now could save you from a large amount of discomfort in the future. It might even save your life.
I’m too embarrassed to take the test or talk about my symptoms
Some people feel embarrassed at the thought of going to the doctor, nurse or Aboriginal health worker and telling them about their symptoms or being examined. But don’t let embarrassment stop you from seeing your health professional.
If it makes things easier for you, when you call to make an appointment you can ask to see either a male or a female doctor, nurse or health worker. If one is available, they will be happy to see you.
Some people might find examinations, such as rectal exams and breast checks embarrassing, but there is nothing to worry about. Doctors perform these exams all the time so there won’t be anything they haven’t seen before. Getting an exam can be very important in finding cancer and the earlier cancer is found, the greater the chance of successful treatment.
Doctors, nurses and health workers are professionals, who deal with people, bodies and illnesses every day. You won’t shock or embarrass them by telling them what’s been happening.
I’ve already seen a doctor, nurse or health worker about my symptoms but they haven’t gone away
If you’ve been to see the doctor, nurse or health worker but your symptoms haven’t gone away, or they’ve changed or got worse, it’s very important that you go back. Your health professional would want to know what was happening.
Shouldn’t I just wait and see if things clear up on their own?
Sometimes it can be tempting to keep an eye on things we’ve noticed, to see if they will clear up on their own. But it’s a much better idea to make an appointment with your doctor, nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as you can after noticing a symptom or a change in how things usually are.
When you see the doctor, nurse or health worker, let them know when you first noticed that something was different. It may help to write dates and details down before you go, so that you’re able to tell them all that’s been happening.
If your health professional thinks it’s okay to wait a while to see what happens, they will be happy to let you know when you should go back and see them. If your symptoms don’t go away, do go back and tell them.
I’m tough enough to manage my own symptoms
Some people put up with symptoms for much longer than they should. This can be because the symptom does not upset their daily life or because they get used to having that symptom. But if you’ve had any symptoms for more than 4 weeks you should tell your doctor, nurse or Aboriginal health worker, because it could be serious. The sooner it’s checked out the better.