Thursday, March 3, 2011

How much is enough...

This week has been a busy one when it comes to people with decisions. I have a colleague who is the initial stages of having had a mammogram showing an abnormality. Now she is scheduled for her biopsy. I remember well the panic that rises when you are in a holding pattern. There are few things in life that are worse. Frankly knowing you have Cancer is in some ways easier to deal with than the feelings that surround "you might have cancer."

When you can't do anything about it but wait, every dark and horrible what if, becomes a part of every cell in your body. You stand on high alert without a direction to turn. It is very very un-nerving.

If you get a definitive diagnosis, then you can start doing something about it.

There is another unsettling time for a Cancer survivor and that is the years that follow treatment. There are always people who would have made different choices, follow a different protocol or chose a different path to recovery. There are no guarantees that anyone chooses the RIGHT one.

It is hard to refrain from imposing your personal opinions on their very personal choices. I am sure it is difficult even for Doctors to offer options and not edicts.

A friend of mine in the early years after her lumpectomy/radiation has been told very different things by different health care providers. Do you take oral medication to reduce the possibility of recurrence. What percentage of "survival" rate is significant. Is an 8% chance of avoiding recurrence enough to deal with potential side effects from the drug. What the heck is the right choice.

Glenn is a believer you throw everything but the kitchen sink at Cancer, even at the early stages. That may be because of me, and my Cancer, or it could be because he lost a colleague to Breast Cancer (10 years) after her initial diagnosis. For me, I felt there were few choices but to use the entire arsenal to fight my cancer. It was aggressive and dividing quickly. I have never regretted my decision because with my family's history, I knew that was the only option.

I tell people when they are worrying over their choices to pay attention to their gut and not their head. Do not pay attention to the fear (coming from the head). Don't talk yourself out of your first instinct. The one thing you don't want to do is to talk yourself out of what you instinctively know to be right. That talking.... well, 9 times out of 10 when I have spent a lot of time talking myself into or out of something it has been a mistake. And this is one area where the what ifs, are just not worth the risk. IMHO

Breast Cancer treatment is evolving and there is no right answer. If there was, there would be no 3 day walk, no more need of fundraising. Today still every 69 seconds a woman dies from Breast Cancer. We have not figured it out. We all do the best we can with the information we are given to make the right choices for us. But none of it is easy.

So... in order to help women all across the planet avoid these pithy decisions, lets just find that cure. DONATE to Susan G Komen through my walk.