After a 6-year battle with cancer, author Anne Hutcheson offers a glimpse into the challenges of diagnosis and what life is like thereafter.
Cancer, a six-letter diagnosis for:
Anything else so
Retreat from their senses?
There are pluses for the cancer patient. You don’t have to shave your legs or pluck your eyebrows for quite a while — though everyone else senses that since you don’t look like yourself, they should treat you differently. You have extra time for housecleaning, if you’re up to it, since you can’t sleep most nights — though everyone else senses that since you don’t behave like you’re expected to, they should treat you differently. You save money on shopping trips you can no longer take because you are trapped in doctors’ offices waiting for appointments or treatments — though everyone else senses that since you are not out there supporting the economy in a natural way, they should treat you differently.
So — the three most frustrating things about cancer:
You wait for the initial test results for days, sometimes weeks. Did you know that most of these results can be shared with you before you leave the doctor’s office? You wait for surgery, if it is to come before treatment, for weeks, sometimes months. You will be told you have time. Did you know a good scheduler is capable of setting up a date for you in a timely fashion, sometimes before you leave the doctor’s office? You wait in a waiting room for treatments and appointments for hours. You are told there are patients ahead of you, if you are so bold as to ask after an hour or two when you might be seen. Did you know there are cancer centers that take pride in making sure you are seen within 15 to 20 minutes after you check in?
You are told you must pursue a particular course of treatment. There is no other. If you question this or ask for alternatives, be prepared to be told one, they cannot help you then, or two, you are further jeopardizing your health. Be strong! Take three deep breaths (one for the body, one for the mind, one for the spirit), and arm yourself with information about your diagnosis and options for treatment. Did you know this should lead to an educated conversation with your health care providers and very likely may save or extend your life? If it does not lead to a mindful conversation, politely excuse yourself and find another medical practice. Did you know you are entitled to a second and third opinion?
One day, you are cancer-free. The next day, you are diagnosed with cancer. Several people offer to help you with whatever you need. Did you notice they offer no specific services? Others turn loose jaws and wide-open eyes on you and ever so slowly back away. When did you start to notice that they do not return? The days pass and turn into months, and you are often very much alone. Do you know where the help is that you were offered, the help that you need, the help you would freely give if someone else needed it? Friends and caregivers, take heed: Did you know that person you know, that person you work with, that person who happens to have cancer, is the same person they were the day before they were diagnosed? Did you know they still enjoy a good laugh, a leisurely walk, a hot cup of coffee or tea, an old-fashioned hug?
Cancer patients, be prepared to live with all your senses enlightened, so that all the world may see you shine, and hopefully follow suit. Together, we can all overcome the frustrations.