grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

July 2010 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day Ten

on July 11, 2015

When I wrote the following update in my CaringBridge journal, I was almost two whole years post-diagnosis. And the concerns listed illustrate just how much life changes when cancer upends things.
I mean, just look at all the tests and follow-ups and appointments mentioned.
That is a cancer survivor’s New Normal.
At least for a time.
And staying on top of it all – and advocating for oneself – is made all the more confuzzling when you throw in Chemo Brain and Appointment Fatigue.

When Paul says ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.’ in 1 Corinthians, I don’t think he had any clue the things our modern-day bodies would face.
I don’t think he could’ve imagined exactly what a complex thing it would be to ‘honor God with [our] bodies’ in 2015.

Honestly, I would be the first to stomp my foot and whine, ‘Paul. C’mon. You don’t get how hard it is. I’m too tired to try to figure out how to honor God with this broken, scarred, parts-missing body. Cut me some slack, man.’

But, friend, being brave enough to pursue good health is worth the work.
Having the courage to call and make appointments and follow up is worth the work.
Summoning the tenacity to ask the questions and act on the answers is worth the work.

Our bodies are a gift.
A precious, miraculous gift.
One that we’re called to steward in ways that bring God honor for His creativity and ingenuity.

So pursue good health.
Make that appointment.
Act on the answers.
And trust the One who created your body with care and artistry to be faithful in showing you ways to use it to His glory.

~~~~~

May 18, 2012
Last Tuesday, I had my SECOND 3-month post-chemo oncology appointment! (Time flies when you’re SURVIVING…and having fun! YAHOO!!) Dr Reynolds and I laugh a lot whenever I go in for an appointment and I leave each one even more convinced of the Biblical truth in Proverbs – ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine’’ (17:22) Amidst all the laughs, we discussed my iron (still in the basement, according to the lab work I had done the day before), the good reports from the clean endoscopy and colonoscopy, the questionable result of the celiac biopsy (*more on that later), and, in the physical exam portion of the appointment, the discovery of a lump in my right breast (**more on that later, too). All in all, it was a good appointment and we set the date for the NEXT 3-month appointment as I left the office!

And now, a couple quick expansions on those asterisked things:

*After hearing nothing from the GI’s office in the two weeks after the biopsy, I asked Dr Reynolds if the results were on the computer (eg –in my chart) and, lo and behold, they were (and had been since 2 days after the test was done!). After reading the results, Reynolds said that it looks like I have some level of celiac, but that’s ‘not [his] area of expertise.’ So, I asked for a copy of the results and looked them up online once I got home. Every result had the word ‘celiac’ in it. Long story short, I called the GI’s office the next day to see if I could get the results from them, figuring that I would get more info on what the next step would be (the path report concluded with the phrase ‘Clinical correlation is required.’), only to find that the doc and his nurse were out of the office for several days. When I did finally hear back from the nurse, she told me the result was ‘negative’. I had also called my nurse practitioner’s office, hoping that they had received the results as she was listed as a recipient on all the paperwork. She had not received a copy of the results at that point and had to call and request that they be faxed to her office. When it was faxed to her, she called and let me know that yes, indeed, I have, at the very least, a high level of gluten intolerance or partially treated, latent celiac disease. Not so ‘negative’, if you ask me! (My nurse practitioner said that my mainly gluten-free diet of the last 4 years was the reason the test result didn’t show full-blown celiac.) As I said in my last update, going 100% gluten-free won’t be much of a change for me, so that’s no biggie. The thing that fries me is that if I hadn’t been on top of all of this, asked for my own copy of the results, and followed through, I would be walking around thinking that all was well on the celiac/gluten intolerance front! Moral of the story: Please, please, PLEASE be your own advocate in your health care! Ask questions! Be proactive! Educate yourself! It’s SO important!

{stepping off her soapbox}

**At my last oncology appointment, I mentioned to Dr Reynolds that I had been having some pain/soreness in my remaining (right) breast. We kind of chalked it up to some overactive lymph glands picking up the slack for the missing left-side ones in the face of a bit of a cold/virus. He did say that if it kept causing me problems, I should have an ultrasound to make sure all was well. While the pain didn’t go all the way away, it came and went enough that I felt like I was able to track it as the lymph issue we talked about – it seemed like it would flare when I was congested or fighting a bug and then settle down when I felt better. I thought I’d better bring it up again at this last appointment, though, as it hadn’t completely disappeared. When he got to that part of the exam, Dr Reynolds concentrated on the area quite a bit (and it hurt like a bugger!), all the while kind of mumbling, ‘It doesn’t feel like a cancer. I don’t think it’s cancer. This doesn’t feel like cancer.’ He then said, ‘I want you to see Dr Viney. She’ll be able to determine what it is.’ This, I have to admit, took me quite by surprise. After all, Dr Viney is a breast cancer specialist. A surgeon. If he didn’t think it was cancer, why a surgeon right away? Why not an ultrasound or MRI? (These are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I drove to Dina’s art show that afternoon…) I have since really come to a peace about it – Dr Viney has an amazing reputation for being able to fairly accurately determine if a lump is cancer by palpation alone, I want to have that breast removed anyway, going straight to the surgeon eliminates the waiting time that invariably comes along with testing, and, lastly, God continues to unfold the map of this journey with tenderness, mercy, grace, and love…I am finding deep rest in that!

Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle. ~Christian D Larson

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