a cancer cell grabbing hold of other body parts

When Cancer Isn’t All

When I was diagnosed with cancer, some of the other things that I feared or dealt with paled a bit. I didn’t fear cancer anymore because I had it and was living and thriving. Then I realized that I wasn’t excused from other cancers or even other medical problems. I quickly realized just how precious and delicate our bodies are. If only our treatment could do its job without causing havoc on other parts of our body.

It's not just the cancer we manage

When I was first diagnosed and taking medication, I was slapped with joint pain, skin rash, and GI flares. I was so very tired also. I was then put on meds to combat all of the other things that this drug was doing to me. Thankfully, after some time, all of those issues leveled out and dissipated mostly. Then new symptoms showed up.

Sometimes our cancer just isn’t all. Our treatments often open up new avenues for other things. More recently, I had a rapidly growing cyst on my right ovary that showed up on my four-month CT scans. My gynecologist took my history into consideration and advised the removal of the entire ovary. Initially, my lung cancer was found due to a female problem, so I trusted him fully and am grateful for his solution mindedness.

The worry and fear persist

All the while prepping for this surgery and all that comes with it, I feared a second cancer in addition to my lung cancer. Normally, lung cancer doesn’t spread to the female organs, so more than likely this would not be a second cancer. I went down all the avenues of what would happen, what would treatment look like, what would survival look like now with two cancers. I worried about so much that didn’t come to pass and I am so thankful. However, this is many people’s reality. This has happened to them and that are fighting more than one cancer unrelated to their primary cancer.

More doctors to see and more appointments to make

After the surgery, my lung cancer scans were due. So, off I go. My doctor comes in and says, "So your left ovary has a cyst now." My heart sank. I asked where that one was four weeks prior when my doctor literally looked at it via robotic procedure. I definitely didn’t want to hear that and I definitely don’t want another surgery. My scans also revealed a small nodule on my thyroid. So there’s another fear. I asked lots of questions.

There are now more doctors to see and more appointments to make which can be highly frustrating for a cancer patient and many of you know.

Don't take our bodies for granted

I know that having another cancer isn’t impossible just because I have one. I am not immune to it at all. Many people deal with multiple cancers on a daily basis and it isn’t as rare as some might think. Not only do we have to fight hard to keep our lung cancer at bay, but the many other possible emergent issues that can show up are scary to think about as well. I used to take this body for granted. I just assumed it wouldn’t fail me. I was always healthy and never sick -- until I was.

Lung cancer just isn’t always the only thing we have to fight. Our various medications bring on so many side effects. Some we tolerate and some require additional medication in order to tolerate. Then with our scans every so often whether full body or not, we can’t help but wonder what in the world will they see this time.

Keep going with resilience and gratitude

I am thankful for the tool to provide the roadmap for treatment and also anything else in my body in disarray, but the fear is huge. I try very hard to live as normal as possible and focus on the good days, making memories, and being thankful for every new day. I think it is ok to be fearful. I think it is natural for us. We experienced the gut-punch of our life on diagnosis day. I think it is permissible to be concerned about our bodies. My mind is often more debilitating than the cancer, but as long as I don’t camp out there, I think I can go there from time to time. It’s the natural thing to do in my opinion.

We fight so many things in addition to cancer. Many of us merely fight for energy to complete daily tasks. It’s hardly ever just the cancer that we fight. Nonetheless, we keep going with resilience and gratitude and a keen eye on those good days.

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