Hi I have been told I have Cancer twice in my life and spoken to many people who also have. You are sitting across from a Doctor who doesn't know you very well, has lots of other patients, so probably by necessity has to distance themselves, and they just say those 4 little words "Sorry you have cancer" . There a lots of terrible health conditions but for most people the word Cancer has always had connotations of Death, Painful Treatments like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery and Fear. This is still in spite of the fact that so many cancers today are survivable and the doctor is in the midst of telling you this, but you are not simply not listening. You have a million questions but all of a sudden you can hardly speak (for anyone who knows me that is almost an impossibility 🙂 ), and in my case the Doctor had pretty much lost interest, as in most cases he is writing out a referral to an Oncologist and you are no longer a source of revenue for him. Like Alice in Wonderland you have just fallen through a hole into an alternate universe. You go into a form of shock and your mind starts racing with OMG I am going to die, how I am I going to tell my loved ones, how long do I have to live, how much is it going to cost, who am I going to tell first, Mum is going to cry ,am I going to lose my hair, and on and on. In the mean time the Doctor, matter of factly and very impersonally, starts to tell you about your prognosis, treatment options, referrals to other doctors etc. But you are not really listening because your heart is racing and you think you are going to be sick and you have just lost something, that no matter what happens next, you are NEVER going to get back. What you have lost is what I call PEACE of MIND. You have obviously been ill or had symptoms, which has lead you to this place in time. You have either had surgery or already many intrusive tests to determine this prognosis, but from the moment those words are uttered, no matter what the results of your treatments might eventually be, either remission, the prognosis is incurable etc, you have lost this forever, no matter how well you deal with things or how brave you are. It's like the very utterance of those words has switched on some tiny molecule in your brain that can never be switched off. One minute, although you were already either secretly or openly afraid, you go from having a future filled with hope, love, family etc., to one that will again, no matter what the outcome always include Fear of some kind. I liken this Fear to Grief. In fact, the initial feelings are very similar to what you feel when you are told someone you love has died suddenly. You can learn to deal with it, manage it, get counselling for it, certainly try not to let it rule your life,but there are certain triggers like getting any kind of symptom or hearing about someone else with the disease, that somehow, somewhere in the back of your mind that tiny molecule sets off the thought "is it back" or as Arnie puts it "I'll be back" 🙂 and there you are again back to that place where you first heard those 4 little words "Sorry you have cancer". The Good News is that like with grief, you have hopefully learned to get out of that bad headspace quicker. I am not someone particularly afraid of death and I have lived a fairly fearless life. I have taken lot's of risks in life but they were under my control and from that moment forward your life is not in your control, for awhile at least, it is in the hands of Doctors and this dreadful word Cancer and you are about to start a very hard journey. I will blog some more about my Cancer Journey so please stay tuned.
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I had cancer of the uterus 7 years ago. For at least 2 years before that I had bleeding and discharge 24/7. My GP told me that I was too fat, but reluctantly sent me for a pelvic scan. Result came back as fibroids, and he told me it was normal. So, finally after lots of hassling,he referred me to a gyno, and he took some biopsies. That was on the Friday, and he also booked me in for a hysteroscopy for the following Tuesday. I got an urgent call from his rooms on the Monday, asking me to go and see him. He told me that he believed that I had cervical cancer, but to be sure he would send me for a CT scan, and had already made an appointment to see a gyno oncologist on Thursday. No, I didn't have the hysteroscopy on Tuesday, but after seeing the gyno oncologist on Thursday he booked me in for one the following Tuesday. On that Tuesday the gyno oncologist told me then that it was uterine cancer. At this stage then we also went to a new GP that had been recommended to us. He tried to get test results previously but the old GP would not release them. Anyhow, 3 weeks after the hysteroscopy & D & C, I had a modified radical hysterectomy and lymph nodes removed. Followed by 28 days of radiation. I do not have check ups anymore, but because I am 3rd generation cancer, have to have annual colonoscopies, my next one is due this Friday. Also have mammograms every 2nd year too. I was actually quite pleased when I was told I had cancer, at least, and at last I knew what was wrong with all the bleeding. I am now a volunteer for cancer connect and talk regularly with ladies about their uterine cancer and side effects.
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By the way, have you joined our gyno cancer group? It is great, and once a month we have online chats.
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Hi Bev Thanks for commenting back. Would you mind if I reposted your comment to my website Womanintheworld.com. I am trying to build up a following so I can get stories like yours and mine to go global. I want to get enough followers so I can get someone like the Project or Studio 10 to do a story. I think we have to band together to somehow make a change to the attitudes of both the GP's to get them to be more responsive and of the Oncologist Surgeons to teat us with more respect. Anyway let me know if you would mind if I re-posted it or you could go to the site and post your own story there. Thanks so much for sharing it with me.
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Hi Carmel I have only been riding this Cancer Rollercoaster for about 4 months now, and wow ....what a head spinning ride...Biopsies..drugs..Chemo..Radiation..side-effects..They were all words I had read...but now I Know them intimately.I fear my journey with Mr "C" has just begun, and hopefully he will be one I will defeat.In the meantime dealing with the demands the "Mind Body and Soul" needs, can be challenging and confusing but Forums like this is a good place to start. Thank you for your Blog Greg
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HI Greg I am so sorry to hear you have to go through this journey. I wish you all the best during this horrible time. My advice is to question everything. Everything the Doctor's say, question and investigate. The internet is an amazing place to go for information. Take control of your own journey, don't let them bully you, because you know yourself and your body best, not them. They are often not right. Taking control makes you feel less like a victim. There are many treatment options to explore, but to me the secret was to make sure I was as informed as possible, and asked as many questions as possible. Doctor's don't like us questioning them as they think they are little gods. Take no notice. You are the one in charge. It is your life. Often doctor's concentrate so hard of the physical aspects, they forget the Mind and Soul that you refer to and believe me, they will contribute to your success in this battle equally if not more than the physical. Stay strong and I will be happy to be here for you if it all gets too hard. Big Hugs Carmel
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