- Chloe Girardier says she was denied an initial appointment for her cough due to her age.
- After five months and seven doctor's visits, she demanded an X-ray and was diagnosed with cancer.
- Other young women have spoken up about advocating for themselves in the healthcare system.
When Chloe Girardier developed a cough in July, she thought it was a cold. But when it persisted, she sought a doctor's appointment. At first, she said, she was denied.
"They kept telling me I wasn't eligible for an urgent appointment because it was just a cough," Girardier, a 23-year-old home health worker in the UK said, according to The Sun. They kept asking her if she'd taken a COVID test without considering other possibilities, she said.
Eventually, Girardier said, she was given antibiotics, inhalers, and acid reflux tablets, but her symptoms didn't change. They were getting worse: Girardier said she was losing weight, too.
After five months and seven doctors appointments with no answers, Girardier said she insisted on a chest X-ray.
The scan revealed a 4.25-inch mass in her chest that turned out to be Hodgkin's lymphoma. The rare cancer causes cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and sometimes spread. It can cause a persistent cough, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue, among other symptoms, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society says.
Girardier is set to undergo intensive chemotherapy on December 20.
"I can't believe it wasn't looked into further and if I hadn't pushed for the chest X-ray, I may still not have a diagnosis," she said. She's speaking out to encourage young people to listen to their bodies.
"It's been dragged on so long because of my age," Girardier said.
Other young women have spoken out about how advocating for themselves has saved their lives
Research has found that women report more severe levels of pain, more frequent pain, and longer periods of pain than men, but are treated for it less aggressively. One 2018 survey found 62% of women have felt dismissed by a male doctor compared to 42 percent of men. When visiting female clinicians, 47% of women feel dismissed and 37% of men do.
Those slights can be dangerous.
24-year-old Danielle Soviero was diagnosed with a brain tumor that had hemorrhaged — and yet she says she was sent home and told to live life "as normal." Over six months later she experienced a debilitating migraine and a "strange pressure" in her head and demanded an MRI.
Even after the scan revealed the tumor had doubled in size and hemorrhaged again, the doctor said it couldn't be removed, Soviero said.
"I was angry. I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands," Soviero told Insider. She found a surgeon who removed the tumor, and after months of occupational, physical, and speech therapy, is almost back to her old self.
Another young woman, Brittany Scheier, previously told Insider her symptoms were brushed off in the ER as drug- or alcohol-related. She was later diagnosed with a stroke at age 27.
Another woman told Insider that her birth-control linked blood clot was also dismissed as alcohol or drugs at age 15. And TikTokers, including one pregnant woman whose stroke was misdiagnosed as dehydration, have encouraged others to speak up for themselves.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist in New York City, previously told Insider she often hears women say "I was listening to the doctor. Maybe they're right,'" she said. "No one knows our bodies as well as we do. Nobody is living in our bodies. We know when we're not OK."