I don’t know if anyone actually knows how to handle a cancer diagnosis. Is there even a “good” way or a “bad” way? I’m not sure, but I say F either way. I think we all process grief in different ways and whatever way works for you, is right for you. No judgement. I was wildly naïve when I was sick and I truly had no clue what it meant to be sick. Again, I’ve always been plain jane, normal, average blah blah blah. So when I had my seizure, this was new territory for me. As I’ve come to learn, your body can seize for a variety of reasons, including overconsumption of alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, a brain tumor (duh!), etc. When I had my seizure, I kid you not, I convinced the doctors that I had a heart attack. After that, it felt like a scene in the movies, where they were ripping off my clothes, lubing me up, and sticking little wires on my chest only to discover that my heart was intact. After the doctor’s had discovered Gretchen, we formed a game plan with the neurologist on call and from there the rest is history.
After I had received the news, I remember sitting in my hospital bed rehearsing what I would say to my parents. I’ve had friends tell me that I sounded almost robotic. Very matter of fact. Emotionless. I suppose this all makes sense because feelings and emotions are complicated, but facts are concrete, black or white. You can be grounded in facts. That’s how I felt in the early days and that style worked for me, but honestly what other option do you have other than to do what the docs say?
On a side note: I’ve always wondered what it must have felt like for my family and friends to learn the news. I would be absolutely devasted and cannot imagine, if it was someone from my tribe. I know I’m ridiculous, but seriously – I am so sad and sorry for anyone has to experience that. Selfishly, I’m so sad that my people had to experience that. I wish we lived in a world where no one had to experience this.
My advice is to pause for just a moment. And in this moment of pause, do NOT start Googling away. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. But seriously, learn from my mistakes. Just don’t. Instead, take a moment and then make an appointment for a second opinion. Hear me out. When everything feels like it is spinning and the train has jumped the tracks, there is still time to take a breath and slow down. And you should. Cancer is very complicated and incredibly unique to YOU. I swear everyone has a “rare” type of cancer, but honestly it makes some sense because probably the biggest challenge to finding a cure for cancer is because there are hundreds of types of cancers. You should know that I made up that number and you should absolutely fact check me, but I hope the point stuck. Its complex and always mutating. Annoying. The treatment you receive should be tailored to you and your unique cancer. The spray and prey method is not an option here. Take a moment and get a second opinion. I know it may seem scary in the moment because you feel like you have to move, move, move and you are already behind, but taking a few extra moments is going to be ok. As momma Cindi says, knowledge is power. Trust your gut. Do what’s right for you and don’t accept a one size fits all. This is your time to be selfish and invest in yourself (it’ll co$t a pretty penny anyway – so lets make it good!).
When you start having meetings with your medical team, I highly recommend bringing someone with you. Honestly, you need someone to take notes and remember the intricate details. I once had a doctor who even let me record the conversation on my phone, which was really helpful to share with others. If you need to take someone for the warm and fuzzies, that’s ok too, but for me it was always about getting the facts. I think its important to develop a game plan that you trust and believe in. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to find the best fit for you. My best advice is to find a medical team that you trust and then build your treatment plan from there. If you don’t trust your docs or they don’t listen or respect you, then they aren’t for you. Sayonara Mother Sucker!
You should always feel cared for, confident, valued, and heard when it comes to your treatment plan. This is your life. [Insert the hand clap emoji]. You are not a statistic [Insert the hand clap emoji]. You are a badass, dammit. [Insert the hand clap emoji]. Now act like one! Above all else you must advocate for yourself. Afterall, if you won’t fight for your own life – who will? I am humbly aware that I could have received care anywhere I wanted. But to me, the best tool in my tool belt was to secure a medical team that believed in me, believed in my journey, and trusted me to make decisions that were right for me – free of judgement or guilt. I encourage you take a moment, no matter where you are in your cancer journey, and do the same. You are destined for great things.