Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Still looking back

Ok - well the results were positive for cancer. A surgical biopsy was scheduled and I was referred to a medical oncologist

That's how it started. Once the cancer was diagnosed I immediately found myself being pulled along in the health care system through appointments, procedures, tests, paperwork...the job of cancer.

It has been terribly frightening at times. Frightening most of all to know that had I not taken an active role in my care, treatment would have been delayed and things may have turned out much, much worse.

Step three - bring someone you love

My husband came to all of my initial appointments and managed all of the facts. Several weeks into treatment, I still literally had no idea what kind of breast cancer I had. I let him hold that. I focused on what I needed to to stay sane and calm for my kids. Being in charge of the data gave my husband the sense that he was in control of something, an important thing for him. And I was able to turn my head off once I left the doctors' offices.

As with all of my experience, this may not be what works for you. But it was a huge gift to me, and him.

I also was able to bring my parents, in-laws and sister to chemo and radiation appointments. I even brought my boys to see the chemo clinic and radiation room. Everyone near me got to see what cancer treatment actually looks like, removing much of the fear and normalizing it. And I wasn't alone. In the chemo clinic, I have seen grandparents share food with grandchildren, friends chat over jigsaw puzzles, and husbands stoicly observe wives' care. I have seen a lot of worried faces, and some resigned ones, but I have also heard a lot of laughter and shared a lot of smiles.

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