advocate yo-self

It’s been a little quieter on the blog. I’ve been jumping back into being me as much as possible. That means loving people, cooking, tackling a project here and there and…finally doing my radiation simulation (it was delayed) AND doing a little physical therapy. 

Physical therapy has proven to be a little more challenging because of the emotional aspect. It’s a trigger for me. I tried to explain this to my PT, but it didn’t help. I was a mess last time. I’m sharing this letter I wrote to let you in on my experience. Please don’t get mad at the PT. No one wakes up and thinks, “I want to make a 38yo, cancer survivor and mother of four bawl her eyes out.” But that’s basically what happened. I thought I’d tell you. Just to share. Oh…And, yes, I really sent this earlier today. 

“Dear _______

I wanted to follow up and let you know why I’ve opted to use a different PT going forward. As I expressed, it has been a distinctly painful loss–even if temporary–to lose my strength and fitness through chemo and surgery treatment. A large part of my identity was my strength. A huge part of my life was hitting the gym multiple times a week. 
There were so many things you did so well. You were warm and polite. You gave clear instructions when giving me a task. You really seem to know your stuff! You showed respect for those you worked for and with at _______. I think, for a lot of clients, you’re a perfect fit. 
Unfortunately, every time I have to debrief with someone about this last appointment, I end up in tears all over again. 
While I realize it is your job to assess and show me how “below average” I am for my age, I felt you lacked the appropriate compassion I needed for the hard news. I’ve worked hard through these last seven months to salvage what I can of my energy. I hiked the Tetons during chemo. I made sure much of the social time that my friends wanted of me was spent on long walks along the Mississippi. A few weeks after my surgery, I was hiking bluffs in Wisconsin. I felt like I was doing pretty well. 
The air was knocked out of my sails as you assessed my fitness last week, letting me know how “below average” I was and saying nothing encouraging to me about what I had left. All you offered toward the end of our session was that “some patients can’t even make it around the room twice without taking a break.” It would have gone a long way had you been more generous with encouragement, recognizing any strength in me that I possessed or taken time to learn what I accomplished despite the hard diagnosis and treatments I’ve been through these last seven months. I left feeling ashamed and discouraged. Therefore, I cannot come back to you or that facility. As I said, this is a particularly sad part of the cancer journey and I need to feel better understood when dealing with such a vulnerable part of my life. I tried to explain this to you as I did the walking test, but I don’t think I made it clear enough. For some women, it might be their fake boobs. For me, it’s my physical ability. 
I was sent a survey regarding my experience at __________. I thought it best to just contact you and let you know, so that you could benefit directly. I’m confident, going forward, you will not fail to encourage your patients, particularly your patients with a similar profile as mine.

12 thoughts on “advocate yo-self

  1. Good for you!!!! You were waaaayyy nicer than you needed to be. Which is why you’re “the nicest person your mom has ever met.”

    I’m so, so proud of you for this. Hopefully it will change her practice and develop her as a clinician in a way that a stupid survey never could.


  2. As a former therapist my only thought is, “Wow. This person must have been young and totally stupid.” Seriously. Not offering excuses at all and I’m SO glad you switched. I just can’t see a seasoned therapist who has seen their fair share of people with ups and downs being like this. You need to find one who “gets it”. Like maybe Jillian Michael’s style, GETS IT. You go girl. And while you’re at it, I hope you sent the picture of you standing on the pier post at the beach along with your letter. Below average. WHAT-EVS. Love you Cancypants.


    1. Surprisingly, she wasn’t young. She was just really very sparing with the encouragement. And I told her, “this is a very painful trigger for me because this used to be my life.” It felt like she was withholding, but I can’t begin to speculate as to why. I actually admitted to her, “if you’re sensing any agitation from me, it’s totally not personal. i’m just extra sensitive about this.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing!!! Great job Jenna. I really admire your strength and although you might not have it back physically, you are a warrior! Time is valuable, so is our energy in this journey we didn’t ask for. 😄 Hang in there!


  4. You know what totally baffles me about this beyond her insensitivity…is the fact that it’s just not even true. You ARE fit and physically doing well despite all the trials. You DID do all that hiking and walking, and I can honestly say, with gusto- cause I know I was racing to keep up with you.
    Don’t be discouraged by her. She didn’t even describe who you actually are.
    For realz…


    1. Well said and courageously sent! A lot of people are going to reap the fruit of your gracious honesty. I pray that God will send you a PT whose compassion and gentleness are equal to his/her skill and knowledge.


  5. Good for you, Jenna. You were kind but I believe made your point. It so difficult to feel like you have lost your energy. I am there so totally understand. You are a very strong woman. Do what is best for You.


  6. Hey Jenna! Long time, no talk and then I jumped on to read about this stinky experience. I am a PT myself so this makes me sad. Ever since I returned to work after my 10 month journey through BC treatment, I have prayed that my experience has made me a much more compassionate person and PT. Sometimes, we need these bends in the road (or lemons, as you refer to it) to realize that when we are doing our jobs, we should be doing it with all our hearts as though working for the Lord, not man. The fact that you have shared this is another great reminder for me.


  7. So proud of you and for you! If they are a mature, responsible therapist they will take the criticism and improve their profession. Hugs!


  8. Until we get a chance to hit the gym together, I can’t attest to your physical strength ;), but I can tell you one thing, you are BY FAR, well above average in inner strength!


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