Change is Hard
Last updated: September 2022
It’s been a year now since my husband and I downsized, moving from our family house to a high-rise condo in a suburb of Chicago closer to downtown. Although I was quick to embrace the restaurants, shops, and grocery stores in my new neighborhood, I have been noticeably slower to make changes in other areas. For example, I have been going to the same dentist since moving to Illinois almost twenty years ago. Although there are numerous options for dentists within walking distance of my new condo, I still have to drive 45 minutes round trip for my twice-yearly teeth cleaning appointments so that I can return to my old dental practice. The dentist I used to see actually retired during the early days of COVID, so I’m making this trip to see the replacement dentist who bought his practice — someone I’ve only known for a couple of years, not even my long-term provider!
Why does change take time?
Why am I doing this? Well, change is hard. This dental practice has noted many important events in my health history, including my lung cancer diagnosis in 2013, the use of bone strengthener treatments for many years due to bone metastases, and my lobectomy in 2020. I don’t need to explain why I am concerned about any invasive dental work or how I have absolutely no interest in discussing optional cosmetic procedures. It’s comforting to go to a medical office where my complex history is already noted and understood.
I have a similar situation with my hairdresser, who has cut and colored my hair for the past twenty years as well. When I was first diagnosed with lung cancer, I decided that I no longer wanted to use the harsh chemicals that I had used previously to color my hair. However, I didn’t like the way I looked with grey hair. Instead, my hairdresser found a semi-permanent hair coloring for me to use made with vegetable dye. She makes sure to have this ready for me at each appointment and I never need to explain why I prefer to use this form of color. As a result, I’ve also been driving back to get my hair cut and colored in the neighborhood near my old home.
There is comfort in the known and familiar
While this frequent driving is not that big of a deal, I would like to make it easier for myself by switching to local alternatives! I’ve even gone as far as ask around for dentist and hair salon recommendations from others whom I’ve met in my new neighborhood and make appointments. However, I end up canceling these appointments, driving back to the providers with whom I have long-term comfort, and pushing off the change until “next time.”
As someone living with lung cancer long-term, I deal with the potential for change to occur at any point in my life. Every next scan could bring change, leading to tests, stress, and treatment adjustments. As a result, I think that I am frequently loathed making seemingly small elective changes in my life. I’m sure I’ll eventually find a new dentist and hairdresser, but it may not be that soon.
Please let me know how you handle making changes in your life!
Happy Lung Cancer Awareness Month! What does self-advocacy mean to you?