Posts Tagged ‘women’s experiences with cancer’

markersMy last appointment before I left town was at the women’s imaging center which is near the hotel where I stay. They knew I had a long drive home,  so they took me back right away and handed me a warm gown to put on. I  love warm gowns. I always take along a scarf to wrap up in because the gowns are skimpy and the rooms are sometimes cold. 

I was told that starting with this appointment, I would have a bi-lateral mammogram, to be followed with appointments every six months when I would have a mammogram on alternating sides.

I also had an ultrasound and a visit with the doctor, who said she was happy with the results of the tests and to see her in six months.

I wrote in the first draft of this post about how I had to insist that the technician get my records before she did the mammogram because I (mistakenly) remembered having a mammogram three months ago and didn’t think it was time to have another one, and how that seemed to set off what I guess would be called post traumatic stress, when I suddenly found myself reliving my first visit here when, during a biopsy I heard the doctor tell someone, “this is going to be cancer, make an appointment for an MRI right away.”

That draft wasn’t saved, and when I began re-writing it, I began wondering why I am writing this journal online where it is public.

How much of this does anyone care about? Who is my audience? What do they want to know? Occasionally, I read blogs written by other breast cancer patients. Everyone is different. One woman’s journal was, for quite a while, very precise and objective in describing what happens to a breast cancer patient without reflecting any emotional content. It was something I would like to have found when I first got my diagnosis so I would have an idea of the process that I would be going through:  how many doctors do you have, what is the role of each doctor, what kind of information do they give you and what is the process you used to make a decision about surgery and treatment, what is radiation treatment and what happens when you go for your first appointment? 

But, as the record of her experience went on, I began to wonder, how did you feel inside about this? Where was the emotional content to this? I wanted to know whether other women had gone through the overwhelming fear and anxiety that I had when I got my diagnosis, and what they did about it, and how long it lasted, and what were the reactions of the people who were close to them?

I wanted to know if other women cried during their first radiation treatment – and why. I wanted to know how many radiation treatments they had before they got tired, and how that fatigue felt to them, and what they did about it, and how the people around them helped or did not help. 

I wanted to know whether they decided to have chemotherapy and how they made that decision – did they just do what the doctor recommended, or did the doctor suggest they make the decision for themselves, and how does a person make a decision like that when we know we don’t have enough information to make a very informed decision that may be one of the most critical decisions we ever make. 

The blog that I was reading that didn’t reflect these things went on very objectively until one day this cancer patient had new pain accompanied by an unexpected and overwhelming fear — is this more cancer?   It is unsettling. It is hard to regain balance afterward. I could relate to her.

Reading about other women’s experience was the thing I hunted for and devoured during the first several months after my diagnosis and while I was going through surgery and treatment.

So, maybe I’ve processed the answer to my question: why am I writing this? If I was writing this just to process my experience for myself, I have plenty of blank books around the house, and this wouldn’t be public. 

I am writing this here in case there is another woman who wants to read about what happened to someone else so she can find something to hang on to for balance while she goes through her own experience. 

We are all unique and our experiences will all be different and we will process them differently, but knowing what it was like for other women helps me see the road.

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