Dr Miller on the Importance of Patient Advocacy in Gynecologic Oncology

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Eirwen M. Miller, MD, discusses the importance of advocating for women in gynecologic oncology on International Women’s Day.

Eirwen, Miller, MD, gynecologic oncologist, the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) West Penn Hospital, discusses the importance of advocating for women from a patient perspective and highlights the effect that events such as International Women’s Day have on women’s advocacy in the oncology space.

Miller begins by stating that patient advocacy in gynecologic oncology constitutes a pivotal part of daily practice, given that all of her patients are women. These patients span across every phase of life, and understanding their current priorities is crucial, she states. For instance, Miller explains that she treats mothers who express their sole desire is to witness their child graduating from college, as well as grandmothers aspiring to attend their grandchildren’s sporting events, provided they feel well enough. Understanding the individual goals of each patient enables treatment plans to align with thoseaspirations, she adds.

Recognizing the unique objectives of each woman and acknowledging their identities as individuals remains vital, even amid the focus on cancer treatment, Miller elucidates. Furthermore, as a patient demographic, women could benefit from enhanced support in advocating for themselves, Miller says, who adds that selflessness often prompts female patients to put the needs of others ahead of their own. Many women dedicate substantial portions of their lives to caring for others as primary caregivers, making it common for women to deprioritize their own needs, Miller explains.

Miller recounts numerous instances where a woman would delay seeking medical attention for herself because she was prioritizing the needs of another family member. Frequently, women sacrifice their own well-being to cater to the needs of those around them, she says. International Women's Day underscores the importance of women addressing their own needs, including health, mental well-being, and overall wellness, amidst the responsibilities they shoulder in daily life, she concludes.

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