In breast cancer circles, you will often hear reference to the advice “Be your own advocate.”
That’s easy to say, especially from the comfortable vantage point of survivorship, when all the active treatment messiness is in your rearview mirror.
It’s not so easy to do, though, especially when the quasi-stability you’ve found in remission starts to feel a little shaky.
What do you do when you’re rocking along, cancer-free, and then a (new to you) symptom appears, in all likelihood totally normal, but what if…? What do you make of being the single outlier in your group of breastie besties, who are on the same treatment regimen as you, but not dealing with the same situation you are? What do you believe when all you have to show for the hour you spent (wasted) online are contradictory reports?
I felt a little foolish doing it.
“They are so busy with their ‘real’ patients. I’m fine now.”
“This is not a big deal (I don’t think).”
“Maybe I’m overreacting.”
“I’m so tired of tests, and waiting for test results. Ignorance is bliss!”
Ultimately, I got tired of my own waffling (total energy drain) and did the responsible thing.
Even then, though, as I sat on crinkly white exam chair paper wearing nothing but a sheet from the waist down, I was second-guessing myself.
But then I sat there answering basic background questions from the most compassionate nurse, and I started to cry. Placing a reassuring hand on my knee, she said aloud exactly what I was thinking in that moment.
“You are absolutely doing the right thing.”
The tests that followed were no picnic. Nor is the dreaded window of waiting for results that I’m now living in (though I have lots of thoughts on how to best pass that time – another blog post for another day).
But I am feeling far less anxious (and actually, much more empowered) now that I initiated an assessment and am on the path to finding specific answers.
Best case scenario this is a whole lot of nothing (at which point I will have a lot to say on the blog, specifically about what must be a very common symptom that no one talks about, even though we should).
If it’s anything else (and I don’t think it is, at all), I’ll partner up with the best care team I know and get ‘er done.