Avril Lavigne was on the cover of People Magazine and the headline read “Avril Lavigne’s Secret Health Crisis” and underneath the striking words “I thought I was dying”. The pop punk princess went into depth in this past week’s People, speaking about her diagnoses of Lyme Disease and its debilitating effects. The disease, if you don’t know, is a bacterial infection caused by a tick’s bite, that if undetected can cause long term damage. The symptoms come in a wide range and often cause radically different effects from person to person. Some of these symptoms include a rash called erythema migrans, fever, chills, severe fatigue, body aches, headaches, severe joint pain and swelling and neurological problems. And since the tests for Lyme Disease are not always accurate, due to the hundreds of different strands, it is hard to diagnose someone with it, even though it has become the “world’s fastest growing epidemics” according to the CDC.
Once Avril Lavigne started feeling some symptoms, she knew something was wrong. She immediately went to her doctors, who told her that her symptoms were due to exhaustion from touring. But Lavigne knew better. She had heard about Lyme Disease from a friend and sensing it might be the cause, she brought it up to her doctors. She SENSED something and she SAID something. But too often many do not listen. “I had to fight” says Lavigne. “I had doctors tell me I was crazy and they didn’t want to test me. I had to learn about it completely on my own.” And only with that tenacity and intuition, was she about to see a Lyme Disease specialist who was able to diagnosis her with the disease and help her start to recover.
We don’t think of anyone saying no to a pop star, but anyone can be in that position. There have been several celebrities who have been misdiagnosed, but have listened to their intuition and kept pushing until they got the right answers. Olivia Newton-John was one of these people who held on to their intuition. In 1992, the beloved singer and actress, found a lump that felt very different. She went to doctors to have it checked, but the results of the mammogram and needle biopsy were negative. But Newton-John still didn’t feel right and pushed further. Finally with a surgical biopsy, they found what was hiding: breast cancer. Now a tireless activist and health advocate, she speaks out and says “I don’t say this in any way to scare anybody; it’s just that my intuition was telling me that something was wrong. And I had to trust that.” Again, she SENSED something and she SAID something.
Actress Fran Drescher fought her own battle with cancer. Drescher had uterine cancer and it took years for doctors to find the tumor, at which point it had reached stage 4. Since her recovery she has written a book and founded the organization, Cancer Schmancer, where she urges women to speak up and take charge, “When you get that weird feeling that something inside you just isn’t right, go to the doctor and find out what’s up. Find out what tests aren’t on the menu. Do research on the Internet. Ask your friends. You have to be your own medical advocate.”
It feels good to not be alone. Just because these women are in the limelight doesn’t make them any less scared or frightened of what they face, but they all knew to act on their instincts and push for more answers. They all sensed something was wrong and did not stop, even after the second or third opinions, until they got the medical care they needed. Being afraid that something is wrong is normal, but you should never be afraid to speak out about it, even if you are met with disbelief like Avril. The person who knows your body best is you, and you might need to be your own advocate and speak up about it. Remember if you SENSE something, SAY something. It could save your life.
I wrote this blog post last year, but it is so apropos today that you can see how intuition plays an affect in not only your every day life, but how the government is even putting resources behind it.
Check out my latest article on Quartz (qz.com) related to the study of INTUITION.
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