Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nobody Told Me There'd be Homework

Information: Kaiser and the American Cancer Society provide copious amounts of helpful information for patients to read: explanations of diagnosis and treatment, different procedures and therapies, how to understand pathology reports, integrative health and healing services resources, post operative exercises, living smart and more. It’s all good, but a bit overwhelming. So where do you start?

Get Organized: I sat down one morning with all the booklets and flyers, a yellow highlighter and post it flags and began the task of educating myself. This is going to be an ongoing adventure so I figure it’s in my best interests to stay on point.

A binder sounded like a good start. I setup tabs for questions, notes, schedules, pathology reports, doctors, anesthesiology, post operative care, resources and a section for communications received from friends, acquaintances and total strangers who have sent humor and positive thoughts, offered to answer questions and forward information to help me on the journey. I also taped my team's business cards to the front inside cover for easy reference.

What's Next: At my age memory isn’t something that can always be relied upon, so I decided type up an outline and make a list questions to ask doctors. Several of my friends who have been through this offered to provide me with additional questions that I may not have thought about. I intend to use all resources offered.

On the Horizon: Due to an annual mammogram the cancer was caught early and the consensus is that it is Stage I, confined to a small area. My decision is to have a lumpectomy and radiation rather than a mastectomy. Surgery is scheduled for late September, followed by a radiation therapy for a minimum of four weeks. The game could change some if we find out that lymph nodes are involved, but the answer to that question will have to wait until surgery day. My take is to keep a positive attitude.

Community: This has become a community excursion. Countless women have made the journey before me, and others will find themselves in the shoes of the new kid on the block as I did, all members of the club no one wants to join. I am happy to have a sisterhood of strong women along for the ride and hope by sharing I can help take the thunder away from someone else’s fears.

Stay positive and dance your cares away.
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