Life Redefined: Free Falling
I received an email a few days ago from a fellow thyroid cancer survivor asking me for some medical advice. This survivor was scared she was having a recurrence and wanted to know my opinion on her situation. She felt scared and alone and didn’t know who to turn to because she wasn’t getting any answers from her doctor. Did you catch that? Her doctor wasn’t giving her any answers. This is a problem, don’t you think? How many of you have experienced this same thing? What I want to tell you is that it is possible to navigate your way through cancer and other illnesses without always feeling like you just jumped out of an airplane without a parachute. In my experience, there are two key components that have to be in place in order to have that sense of security: a doctor you trust and friends/family who truly support you.
[Before I go any further, let me assure you that I did not reply to the aforementioned email with any medical advice because I’m not qualified to give you medical advice. There, you’ve received the disclaimer.]
Have you ever done one of those trust falls where you’re up on a platform and have to fall backwards, trusting that everyone on the ground with their arms held out would actually catch you? Like in this video. Yeah, I don’t like those. When I was in the seventh grade I was at a ropes course that included one of these trust falls. I refused to do it. I helped catch people who were trusting enough to fall, but I would not get up on that platform myself. But in this situation, I had the choice. I was able to choose to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.
When I was diagnosed with cancer I felt like I had been shoved off the platform and didn’t know who was beneath me. I think that in situations like this, you have to hand-pick your support system. First of all (but not necessarily most importantly), I had to have a doctor I trust, a doctor who is willing to work WITH me, a doctor who sees me as an individual and not as a chart. I was fortunate enough to find this doctor on my first try. I know that for many of you, finding a doctor you can work with has not been so easy. Some of you haven’t found that doctor yet, but please, DON’T GIVE UP. I hear you when you say that good doctors don’t exist for you. I hear you when you say it’s hard work to find a doctor you can trust. Please let me encourage you that good doctors do exist. Keep looking for the best doctor for YOU because you deserve good treatment. (Note: If you’re having trouble finding an endocrinologist, check out Mary Shomon’s directory of patient-recommended thyroid doctors: http://www.thyroid-info.com/topdrs/)
Surround yourself with people who will truly support you and catch you when you are falling. Unfortunately, I’ve found that there’s a learning curve with this one, and that means I’ve hit the ground when the people I thought would catch me disappeared. And it hurts. Bad. When I was diagnosed with cancer there were friends in my life who I just knew would be with me for the long haul. Some of them have stuck by my side. However, many of them disappeared. Out of the picture. Gone. I think that’s something many of you have experienced as well. Figuring out how to move on from that loss is HARD, but we must move on because we deserve wellness. We need to be surrounded by people who care. Find people who truly want to support you and cling on to them. Let them help you carry your load. If you don’t have anyone in your life who will support you, well you’ve come to the right place—we are here to walk with you through every single step as you seek treatment and healing and wellness. We carry each other. We hold each other up. Together we seek change.
Don’t settle for less than you deserve. If you are in need of help and don’t know where to turn, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I promise to help you find the resources you need.
Do you have a solid support system? Who catches you when you fall? What do you need to feel that sense of security, to know you won’t hit the ground?