Surviving and thriving during and after Cancer
As a three time cancer survivor and warrior I want to share and inspire others on just how important it is to be your own advocate. Follow your gut, and believe in your instincts. You are responsible for your own health and what services , medications and healthcare personnel you receive once you hear that dreaded diagnosis.
First, I want to say how privileged I feel that I was asked to blog about my Cancer experiences from Andy with Bloodwise. I am honored and humbled. Thank you.
I am a three time Cancer Survivor/ Warrior. I like to say the word Warrior because to overcome this disease each of us has to fight with every ounce of our being. It's about hearing those three words, dealing with it, and fighting! That is simplifying things, and NOTHING is simple about this diagnosis.
I want everyone to know that I worked in the medical field as a Director of Marketing for multiple High Field Imaging companies. ( MRI, PET, CT, Ultrasound, Mammography) I was working full time when I was diagnosed at 27 with Cervical Cancer, and again at 40 with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. My recent diagnosis of Stage 3 Diffused Large B cell Non Hodgkins Lymphoma was deliver to me at the age of 49! I was reeling! I thought, " this cannot be happening to me!" Within hours of my Internal Medicine M.D appointment and me pointing out this golf ball sized lump under my left underarm I was getting a ultrasound guided mammogram. Those results were immediately read( a perk of knowing your medical community) and then having a Radiologist perform at the Imaging Center a ultrasound guided biopsy. This was sent immediately for typing. I was then directed to multiple Oncology offices. Legally in the US you must give three offices. I did my research and by the next day was in a cutting edge office with a Oncologist/ Henatologist that gave me my clear cut diagnosis but wanted a larger biopsy to make sure if the typing of my Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Regarding this additional biopsy, I feel it is critical to how your own M.D. Will proceed and what medications are best. Also, if there is a clinical trial that you would be a candidate for. I say this not just for Blood Cancers. It is key to have a second biopsy. Mine was sent to Harvard. I had not one but two very special friends be told they had a cancer and underwent a surgery , only to be told afterword that they did not have that cancer, in truth NO cancer at all.
I on the other hand was given a positive of Stage 3 ( high ) Diffused Large B Cell Non Hodgkins Lynphoma. I went to a surgeon who wanted to try and remove the tumor under my left underarm and even scheduled that surgery( after a grueling and unprofessional) appointment, only to get a call from the HOSPITAL the morning my surgery was scheduled for. The hospital was calling to tell me that my surgeon had cancelled my surgery because I had failed to pay for my portion of the procedure that I was scheduled for less than 2 hours. I immediately tried calling my surgeons office( 5:30 am) and of course no answer. I did not have that surgery. I am blessed that I did not. I found my own incredible surgeon who performed it the following week but also inserted my Port. Something the previous Doctor never spoke of, he was more concerned with getting paid for a procedure he had not even performed yet. My portion , for the surgeon that I did not use, $60.42 . Outrageous, unethical and disheartening.
This is why I urge each of you. Everyone, really, to follow your gut. I found my own lump, which by the way the doctors thought was athe size of a golf ball and ended up being the size of an eggplant. The original surgeons office was disrespectful, pushy and unethical. Yet, I was so scared I went ahead and scheduled my surgery only to find out the morning of that surgery that he wanted my $60.42 more than perform my life altering surgery. Thank God, yes, because I found the most wonderful surgeon and staff that treated me with compassion, love and dignity.
Thanks for listening. It's been almost two years since that scary two weeks, yet it's still so fresh and scary.