I ran across this post last week and decided to go withnit for this week’s Guest Post. Not coincidentally I am also scheduled for a clinic check-up this Friday. It has been three months since my last appointment. This is the longest that I have gone without seeing my transplant doctors in five years. In fact this will be my five-year anniversary check-up. In the past that meant a bone marrow biopsy (very painful). But without symptoms we’ll probably just do extensive blood work. Symptoms? Well, Tish did exclaim last week when she saw the large red bruise covering most of my shin. And for some reason I have been sleeping really late this past week. Can we call it paranoia when sleeping too much seems like a symptom of relapsed disease?!
In any case this week’s guest post fits the theme. A graphic designer and ovarian cancer survivor from the United Kingdom, our featured blogger calls herself l’optimiste and writes her wonderfully titled blog ovarian cancer?? pass the wine…now!
This is a good week for ovarian cancer survivors. Our August Book Club Selection “The Spirit Within” concerns a woman with ovarian cancer and her female physician. Also I have added a number fo bloggers to the ovarian section.
what I have wanted to know for a while is this: WHY do we get so distressed about having this check up? And I think I may have discovered the answer.
Weeks before, I am thinking about what ‘could’ happen, what ‘might’ happen – the worst scenarios and the best. Plan A and Plan B. [gotta have those – control, control…]. And I know I am not alone in this. At first I thought I was, but now I know better.
EVERYONE who has had cancer [any kind – oh, and how fun that there are so many varieties of this fucking disease!!] that I know, freaks out in the weeks preceding The Check Up. It’s odd, as as soon as I walk into the Oncology department I am totally Zen. I have a comfort zone there, as they are the people who saved my life, so if they did it once, in a worst case scenario, they can do it again. So, once I am there I am calm and totally ‘in the zone’. Am I naive? Am I stupid? Or am I realistic?
But Aj put it completely into perspective for me when he said that actually, this is a ‘life or death’ appointment. And he’s right.
It is life or death.
And that’s scary. I never really managed to think it through until he said that, but I think that’s actually what makes us all into quivering wrecks. And please, anyone, correct me if I’m wrong here. But for me, the [almost] subliminal thought that ‘this time’ could be the time that they tell you it’s come back. That bastard cancer. That sneaking, murdering, hideous little cell that could kill me if I let it. It could be the day that I discover I am going to die of this disease. Soon. And in pain. Probably in agony. It could be the day that I discover I have to have more chemo. Or some new treatment. Or more surgery. Or that they can’t do anything more for me because I am terminal. Or anything.
It’s a screaming unknown. And we go into it screaming. Quietly. And hiding the screams with laughter or chatter or blasé remarks. Trying to be POSITIVE. BEING positive.
But the screams batter round your brain….echoing hell. A hell no-one can see.
How positive can we be?? I know I try so hard. It takes almost all my energy. Day in, day out, trying to just keep a cheerful face on…and I know my friends do too. But what if the surgeon / doctor / oncologist gives one that bad news? How strong do we have to be? How strong CAN we be? Do we have to just carry on ‘being positive’ because friends and relatives expect it of us? Or is there a point we reach that we just say: “no, enough”…
I hope I never, ever have to find out.