Susan Lucci: ‘As women, we are prone to not want to bother the doctor’

Susan Lucci at The American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection 2020
Susan Lucci has an interview with People Magazine to promote her collaboration with the American Heart Association. Lucci had a cardiac emergency in 2018. Both of the arteries leading to her heart were blocked and she needed surgery to have stents put in. Although she’s done work with the AHA for over a decade, she’s been a more passionate advocate for women’s heart health since. In a new interview with People, Lucci has some advice for women about putting ourselves first, particularly when we are having symptoms we shouldn’t ignore.

While chatting with PEOPLE about her ongoing collaboration with the American Heart Association and its Go Red for Women initiative, the 75-year-old actress opened up about how important it is for women of all ages to be in touch with their health.

“As women, we are prone to not want to bother the doctor,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively. “We are prone to taking care of our children, of course, and our husband, or significant other, and our homes,” she continues. “And we get busy, and we are not even on the to-do list.”

Recalling how she initially downplayed “milder symptoms” that eventually led to an emergency heart procedure, Lucci feels a responsibility to share her story.

“I’ve had the opportunity to say to women, give yourself permission to take care of yourself. You are the caretaker for everyone around you, and if you’re not well, they’re not going to get taken care of either,” Lucci adds. “So be guilt-free, put yourself on that to-do list. Your wellbeing is great for you, and it’s great for everyone you love, who loves you…

“I think a lot of us, men and women, are on call. We are on call all the time. People are calling your name. People need things from you. And you want to do everything … You are just pulled in a million different directions,” she adds. “So find a quiet moment. Maybe a quiet 15 minutes, or a quiet 10 minutes, whatever you can find, that’s just a quiet time for you where nobody’s calling your name and there are no demands on your time or your brain.”

[From People]

I like that she’s advocating for this and it’s important to pay attention to our symptoms and seek help quickly. Lucci’s Wiki says that she’s a Republican. Learning that made me think about systemic issues. As women we ignore our symptoms because we’re often dismissed and discounted by doctors. It’s worse for women of color and it’s worse for women who are overweight. So many women’s medical conditions are blamed by doctors on weight or stress. This is not just about advocating for ourselves and taking more time for self care. I understand what she’s saying and these things are necessary too, but they’re just part of it. It’s also much easier for white women and women who don’t have to worry about missing work or being able to afford going to the doctor. I do like what she said about how we don’t even put ourselves on the to-do list.

People had a story recently about a British woman with undiagnosed ovarian cancer living in Australia. She was continually told to lose weight for her symptoms. A woman I know had her appendix burst over a week after she first sought emergency treatment for textbook appendicitis – and was told it was her gallbladder. She’s doing OK now, but she could have died if she did not seek care at another hospital. We don’t want to bother the doctor, but more than that we don’t want to go through the indignity, yet again, of being told it’s all in our head.

Susan Lucci in an animal print dress at The Hallmark Channel Summer 2019 TCA Event

Susan Lucci at The Hallmark Channel Summer 2019 TCA Event

Photos credit: and Instar

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17 Responses to “Susan Lucci: ‘As women, we are prone to not want to bother the doctor’”

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  1. WiththeAmerican says:

    She lost me at Republican. But yes, everyone bother the doctor – you matter!

    • Orangeowl says:

      Such a bummer. I was a huge AMC viewer and she always seemed like a sweet lady. Her message here is so important. A friend is about to undergo surgery for her shoulder, after years and years of pain that she said she thought was too trivial to mention to the doctor. She really thought she was doomed to a lifetime of pain and didn’t consider that she might have options to fix it.

  2. Penelope says:

    I know it’s just celebrity gossip, but thank you for the acknowledgement that medical care is so much harder for those of us who are overweight; I struggled my entire life to find a family doctor who wouldn’t respond to every concern with “if you lost weight that would improve.” Asthma? Lose weight (that actually does really improve it). Head cold? Lose weight. Concussion from car accident? Lose weight. I wish I was kidding.

    I did find a wonderful one eventually. Who stuck with me every step, cheering me on, reminding me no gain is a victory, connecting me to nutritionists, and ensuring that anything I bring to him is treated with care and respect. Helped me lose 75 pounds. He was the first medical professional to ever treat me as more than a number on the scale.

  3. observer says:

    I have medical PTSD and nearly died last year as a result of continually *bothering* different doctors persistently for years for a health condition that was dismissed as being all in my head. I am privileged: I am white and thin, and this still happened to me. I have probably lost years off my life as a result of my ordeal and the lack of medical treatment I urgently needed, repeatedly sought out, was constantly gaslit over (I was even 5150’d once because the doctor determined that I was hysterical and having a psychological breakdown when the case was that I DID NEED urgent medical treatment as was later proved…1 day into my sanctioned stay into a mental ward I collapsed and was rushed to a DIFFERENT hospital before being swiftly discharged…).

    Susan Lucci may be speaking for herself or for a particular type of woman but as someone with severe chronic illness it’s not that I was ever hesitant to bother the doctors: The doctors could never be bothered with me.

    My experience is not unusual and as I mentioned I am privileged. It horrifies me to imagine what other women must go through.

    Also, the part about nearly dying last year is absolutely not hyperbole. I nearly lost my life to this shit.

    • superashes says:

      Yeah, my first year of law school I had a medical issue and went to an urgent care center. I kept trying to explain my symptoms and they told me I had a pulled muscle. I told them that it didn’t make sense because my heart was racing and I couldn’t breathe in when I got a sharp pain in my side and back, which was radiating. Sore muscle they said and gave me muscle relaxers, and I almost asphyxiated on the sidewalk outside CVS trying to fill the prescription.

      When my heart rate didn’t go down I went to the hospital the next morning. The nurse was temped to send me home but was concerned about my heart rate so sent me back to the ER doctor who asked me two questions (1) are you on birth control and (2) have you done any cocaine. He then promptly diagnosed me with blood clots in my lungs and ran a CT to confirm and it turns out I had them in both lungs with more forming in my legs. Turns out I had ticked off every other box for pulmonary emboli in my workup with the nurse, and it was a common side effect of birth control pills.

      I’m lucky I survived, the nurse at the hospital basically told my family to come up to say goodbye because they didn’t think I would make it through the night. I 100% would have died if I hadn’t gone to the ER. It is wild how easily women are dismissed when they mention a legitimate health issue.

      • observer says:

        I am so sorry that happened to you. It makes me absolutely livid. I am sure that there are so many more women out there with experiences that mirror our own.

        I’m hoping you’re fully recovered now. And hopefully other women that read this and think there is something wrong and get dismissed…will keep pushing back and go back (or go to different) sources of medical aid if they are available. If neither of us had done so, we would both be dead because of being dismissed as women by medical practitioners. It’s that simple and it’s that f–ked.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ observer, @ superashes, @ SusieQ, my heart breaks for ALL you. As a white woman, I understand your situation. I became ill in ‘97 with some awful pelvic pain. It’s was pretty much in tune to my periods eventually. First it would occur every 4-8 weeks of pelvic pain that would last 5-12 seconds, then became monthly. I saw the head of OB/GYN at Baylor, and the heads of GYN of medical institutions in Houston, as we lived there and my husband was doing his residency/specialty. I had 3 physiological exams as if I was imagining all of it, it was demeaning and utterly disgusting, as if I was bringing this all on upon myself and have been told numerous times I was a drug addict and/or a hysterical woman unhappy in my life. This was on top of not being able to sit, drive or have sex. It wasn’t until I had surgery with the head of GYN at the Women’s Hospital in Houston were the physician assured me I had adnomyosis, which I didn’t. They pain was still insufferable which he decided he would continue to take my reproductive organs to get to the bottom of it. I sat up on the table and told him he wasn’t touching me a 10 foot f#cking pole UNTIL he could diagnose me first. That was the last time I saw him. It wasn’t until I moved to College Station were the GYN took my ovaries due to endometriosis, but I still had unmanageable pain, to which she told me I was a drug addict and was just looking for narcotics, again another stereotypical response.

      It’s not that we DON’T advocate for ourselves, it’s that physicians are more likely to excuse our physical pain as a side effect of outside influences, we are unhappy, we are in bad marriage/relationship, seeking drugs, the list is endless. Until the medical field takes OUR health as seriously as they do men, we will NOT be treated as we should be!! We can all be our own advocates but it’s useless until we can weed through the useless MD’s and find an ally in our court!!

      The worst part of ALL of this is the way WOC are treated. We are treated poorly but WOC are treated much worse than we are! We must be advocates for ALL women no matter the color of our skin or the fact that English is not our first language.

      It’s perfectly acceptable for US, as women, to fire our health care providers until we find our ally’s to discover and to listen to what we have to tell them!!

      It’s up to the AMA to root out the bad apples to force them to listen to their patients and NOT rule us out as a hysterical woman or that it is all in our head.

      Sorry for the rant but I have been dealing with this for over 20+ years.

  4. SusieQ says:

    I was experiencing autoimmune symptoms, including a butterfly rash across my face. I was told (by a female PA) that I just had “bad, bumpy skin” caused by “adult acne” and that I needed to see a dermatologist. It was such a mean, catty thing to say, and I just sat there stunned. I expect that behavior from high school bullies, not medical professionals.

    • observer says:

      I am so sorry that happened to you. I also have autoimmune issues and have had similar and worse things said to me by literal “medical professionals”. You have my profound sympathy.

  5. Lauren Too says:

    I have always been part of the “don’t disturb the doctor’s crowd”. I had to change my ob-gyn because according to her there was nothing wrong and everything I had could be explained with POS. I went to a new ob-gyn for a check-up and turns out I had a couple of benign tumors and not POS, but MFO. So yeah, disturb the doctors.

    • superashes says:

      I was too until I learned the hard way. Now I know you have to be your own advocate to save your own life.

  6. likethedirection says:

    My mother had debilitating symptoms for years that doctor after (male) doctor would tell her were depression and refuse to investigate further. A decade into her suffering a female doctor ran some tests, and sure enough she had cancer. It was very treatable, but she never should have lost those years of her life to migraines and exhaustion.

    As a result, I don’t go to male doctors at all; I’m sure there are some great ones out there but I feel like my health outcomes will be better overall with women and non-binary folk.

  7. Tootsie McJingle says:

    This is why I have yet to make an appointment with my doctor about my mid back pain. I know she is going to tell me it’s from weight and carrying twins babies around all day. I just don’t see the point in wasting both of our time. So I just deal with it.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      Please don’t put off your need for medical care due to some twit that will waste your time. Reach out to other that may be experiencing the same issues and find a referral to help you eliminate your pain. The pain you experience now could turn into a nightmare as you grow older. Please trust me as a 59 1/2 year old woman.

  8. t'otter says:

    “we don’t want to go through the indignity, yet again, of being told it’s all in our head.”

    Amen! I don’t trust my own body anymore and as the doctor apparently doesn’t trust me I feel I can’t trust her . . .

  9. Emma says:

    Or we don’t have decent or any health insurance. She’s out of touch.

    Yes if you can, do see a doctor, do get a second and third opinion, and if you have the ability and privilege DO advocate for yourself.

    But don’t forgot those of us who are choosing between the doctor and rent payments! FFS.

  10. E says:

    Finding a female Functional Medicine practitioner has made such a difference in helping me with what turned out to be autoimmune, gut, and hormone issues which 6 different specialists couldn’t even come close to figuring out.