I knew I needed to make an appointment with my gynecologist; that shouldn’t wait when you are a cancer survivor. Nevertheless, it had; and the year was ending. With a high yearly healthcare deductible met, I needed to squeeze my appointment in before the end of the year. That way, (I thought) it would be paid for, and then next year I could just skip it all – the medical appointments, the large medical bills, all of it. I finally called to make the appointment and reached my goal of year-end by mere hours — and after agreeing to see a new doctor at the practice that was not already booked up through year-end.
Entering Into Another Journey Of The Unkown
As the appointment approached the universe seemed to call me away, but I stood firm even though there were so many other things I could have been doing. I arrived on time and was escorted to a room where before I knew it my yearly routine exam turned into another journey into the unknown. The look on the doctor’s face was priceless as she poked and prodded around my body. As she turned to look my way she said in a very concerned voice that she felt fullness on my left side and that I should schedule a follow-up ultrasound. So much for my plan to skip doctor visits next year. Out the door, just like that.
Taking A Deep Breath I Headed To A New Year’s Eve Party
“Good thing I do yoga and meditation,” I thought, as I made the appointment on the way out. My yoga practice had facilitated deep healing after my initial treatment and beyond, helping to balance my body’s stress response both then and now.
As I headed to a New Year’s Eve get-together I remembered the look on the doctor’s face and hoped that she didn’t play poker. Entering the house full of people ready to bring in the New Year, I put it all aside, staying mostly in the moment as I enjoyed visiting with others I haven’t seen in a while. However, thoughts kept creeping in and out – “What if it’s back?”
The day of the next appointment came quickly. Lying on the table as the tech was scanning my lower left side, I surrendered to the moment. I wondered what she would do if I asked her how everything looked. I tried to look myself. I tried not to notice that she kept taking pictures and measurements of a specific area. With remarkable speed, I was whisked back into a room to see the doctor. She reported that I had fluid in my left side, with no other remarkable findings, and that I should repeat the scan in 2 months. I asked her if she was concerned that I was over 50, menopausal, and a breast cancer survivor. She said she wasn’t. I made a follow-up appointment as I left the office.
What I Found On Google
When I arrived home I called my oncologist for the first available appointment. I had to schedule it several weeks out, and then made my way to Google. A search on the “causes of fluid in the pelvic area” delivered a page riddled with references to ovarian cancer.
I clicked on several of the links and read story after story of those who had the same situation; but had been ignored, turned away, or told to come back later, and then were diagnosed with a progressed stage of ovarian cancer. Early detection was hard and uncommon. I then took a deep breath and again I let it go – for the most part.
Once in front of my oncologist he voiced concern and recommended testing. First blood work, and then a CT scan. He asked how long it had been since my last colonoscopy, and as I thought back I realized I hadn’t had one since before my cancer diagnosis. So that got put on the list as well. Time to let go again.
A Familiar Routine For A Cancer Survivor – Testing and Waiting
Blood was drawn and then the testing was done. I headed back to the oncologist for the results. An extended wait time in the office offered additional opportunity to think, to panic, but I remained calm. As the doctor walked in he immediately announced that the tests were all clear, and a large smile crossed his face. He didn’t have an answer for me as to what was causing the excess fluid, but he was relatively sure that it wasn’t cancer.
Knowing there are no guarantees, I was still thankful for the moment and the news that the tests were all clear. We spoke for a few minutes and then he recommended a great restaurant around the corner and suggested that I go celebrate.
Lessons Remembered – Live Fully And Gratefully In Every Moment
Even as a cancer survivor, I am reminded once again that life is a terminal condition. Those with a terminal diagnosis are just more in the know on how much time they have. I am reminded that I am lucky to be alive. I am reminded to not get caught up in the mundane and to embrace each moment with as much wonder as possible.
The truth is; cancer survivor or not, we never know what day will be our last day. By staying steeped in reality and remembering there are no guarantees, I recommit to appreciating the little things in life, like the warmth of the sun, the wind on my face, the smile of a stranger, and the beauty of life all around me. I am reminded not to wait for a terminal diagnosis to begin to truly live.
- 5 Things I Learned From Breast Cancer
- The Benefits Of Yoga For Breast Cancer Survivors
- Yoga As A RoadMap For Healing
- Why Yoga Is Great For Breast Cancer Patients And Survivors
Photos: Emily Elissa Photography