Life Redefined: Check Yes for Cancer
Do you remember how easy it used to be to fill out a medical form? You know, prior to the onslaught of health issues. I could fill out a form in a couple minutes. Current medication? Nada. Medical history? Healthy. I could seriously blow through the medical history questions in no time because I just had to check “no” for everything.
I remember the first time I had to fill out a medical form after being diagnosed with cancer. I was sitting in the waiting room of my surgeon’s office filling out the forms held in the clipboard I precariously balanced on my lap. I was filling out the forms as I normally would, and then I got to the question. THE question. “Do you currently have or have you ever had any form of cancer?” I just sat there and stared at the paper while cancer stared back at me. It took me a minute, which felt like an hour, to stop the room from spinning enough for me to be able to lift the pen and check yes.
That one little checkmark freaked me out. I think it was maybe the first moment that I really knew I had cancer. And now I’ve realized the checkmarks don’t stop with cancer. Thyroid disease? Yes. Fatigue? Yes. See previous. Insomnia? Yes, which does nothing for the fatigue. And the list goes on and on…
Not too long ago I was at my primary care physician’s office and the nurse was updating my medical information. She asked for a list of all medications and supplements I take and the dosage of each. Um, you want me to list all my medications AND the dosage? Maybe you should add thymentia to my medical history because I CAN’T REMEMBER IT ALL. I almost laughed at the nurse because I knew that by the time I could actually remember all my medicines and then list them off to her, it could quite possibly be a thirty minute ordeal. But while I’m sitting there trying to remember what all the pills I tote around in my pill organizer actually are, all I can think is, “Two years ago I wouldn’t have had this problem.”
Is checking “yes” instead of “no” really that big of a deal? Yes. It’s a HUGE deal because every time I check yes for cancer and all the side effects it has caused, I have to face cancer. I have to look at it. I have to remind myself that it is real, and that’s hard. I wish I could pretend I don’t have cancer. I wish I could tuck it away in the back of my mind and never think about it. But I can’t. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. It’s always there, even when I’m filling out a form at the doctor’s office or refilling a prescription that I only need because of this wretched disease. So here’s what I’ve learned to do: I check “yes” with a steady hand. I force away the anxiety and face the cancer. Until I can put cancer out of mind, and I do hope that one day in the future I am able to do so, I accept that what used to be normal is no longer normal. I’ve learned that if I don’t face the changes that cancer has brought into my life, both the small changes and the big, then I am letting cancer win. If I don’t accept who I am, who I’ve become, then cancer is stealing bits and pieces of my life. I will not allow it.
I have cancer. Cancer does NOT have me.
Do you have thyroid disease or does thyroid disease have you? What seemingly small changes make you face thyroid disease? How do you deal with those changes?
Tags: coping with cancer, emotional distress related to cancer, facing thyroid disease and thyroid cancer, living with cancer, post cancer medical forms, repercussions of cancer, young adults and thyroid cancer