Wednesday, August 8, 2012

terrible ifs of lung cancer diagnosis

Every time I begin to type I feel “I am not worthy” contrasted to  blogs by others surviving lung cancer in terms of years but then again I pray there will be many more like me in the future beginning survivorship with growing lung cancer awareness.

When this began for me seven months ago just days before Christmas with that call following my chest x-ray, I went immediately to ‘how long do I have to live’. Anyone and everyone I ever knew who had lung cancer died and died soon.

“How long?”, remained my primary question through the first two months of tests, biopsy and appointments.

In retrospect it really was kind of nuts how long it took for the medical profession to catch up to where I already was. I ‘knew’ at the first mention of “vague nodular density” that I had lung cancer. It took medical science another 8 weeks to catch up.

"The terrible ifs accumulate" Winston Churchill wrote reflecting on a failed WWI British military campaign. Mix in a lung cancer diagnosis with the Internet, imagination, tall tales, and fears and those terrible ifs accumulate exponentially.

Tossing and turning through sleepless nights with my new BFF the Grim Reaper I would finally fall asleep only to shoot up awake to the sound of banshees (maybe owls, or morning doves) or the rumble of death coaches (possibly the trash truck) … “how long” was driving me mad.

My nurse practitioner warned me to be careful using the Internet but I could not resist I was sucked into a growing universe of ‘terrible ifs’ as I typed in each test result.

By the time I got to the thoracic surgeon and oncologist level of appointments my lung cancer had taken over my mind.

picture of Patrick in baseball cap with lung cancer survivor printed across the cap
‘How long do I have to live’ was instead answered by lung cancer discussions such as my personal health plus early detection and type of lung cancer created options such as operable, treatable, and survivorship. No promises, no guarantees but if you want to fight you can.

How did I miss that ‘if you want to fight you can’ while accumulating those terrible ifs?

by Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @
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1 comment:

  1. I think it is "natural" for us to always go to the terrible ifs first and continually as we are dealing with any type of condition like this, illness, diagnosis, whatever. We can worry ourselves to death with what ifs or we can try to enjoy every day that is given us, because we really truly don't know how long, even the doctors' best guestimates or just that, guestimates, only God knows the length of our days. So in saying that, try not to worry, which is easier said than done since I am of the opinion in a similar case I would have the terrible ifs too. Your nurse practitioner was wise to say stay off the internet, there is good info out here and bad info, hard to discern sometimes when dealing with such a diagnosis. One can get wrapped up in the internet and forget to enjoy what is real life and one's own individual condition.