Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cancer Scares

There's this thing that happens once you've had cancer.  You become more aware of the little things.  Not just things like the chirping of birds, or the way rain smells.  Things like how different parts of your body feel.  What things generally look like.  You become very aware of things that are out of the ordinary, for you. 

In my case, when something seems a little not-quite-right, I hear Jeff Goldblum saying "Are...are we worrying?  I...I this....OK?

Every cancer survivor I've spoken to has had a scare.  At least one. 
The sinking "something's a little off" feeling is one thing.   It is easy enough to deal with - you talk to a medical professional and you get it sorted out, right?  Done and done. 

But it's not that easy for everyone.  You may think you are imaging things.  Or that you are perhaps over reacting.  Or that you have become a hypochondriac.  Or that you can't run to the doctor for every little thing; you really need to man-up.  Or that your family can't take the stress of having to deal with cancer again.  Or that you can't take the stress of having to deal with cancer again.

So you wait.  For a sign that it's definitely something.  Or definitely nothing.

And you feel like an idiot for waiting.  You feel bad about being scared.  You are supposed to be tough, right?  You beat this thing once, right?  So maybe you go see that medical professional. Or, maybe you wait some more.  It's the cat in the box again.  You are both fine and very much not fine until the test results are in.

So, why am I telling you all this?

Because I had a scare. 

I've had more than one so far, but this one was bad.  Waiting for the biopsy results was rough. 

And you know what?  It's not cancer.  It's serious, and there will be surgeries ahead (I've already had one), but I will deal with it.  Because it's not cancer. 

Now, I have a very, very dear friend who waited.  And it was cancer.  And her journey was not an easy one.  She's still here.  She's doing great.  The thought of what she went through got me to see a medical professional when I noticed something wrong.  That, plus I'd eventually have to tell her, either way, and she can (and will) kick my sorry butt. 

So, how do you know if cancer has come back?  How do you know if it's going to be OK? 

You don't. 
You have to pick up the phone.  You have to call your doctor.  You have to check.