Friday, March 23, 2012

The R-word

Its spring time and for us cancer people the R word is not 'refund' or 'rebate' or 'renew' or 'regrow'. It is 'recurrence'. That is the EVIL word. It is the word none of us want to hear.

I have a few friends who are coping with this nasty word now. It does not mean good things. That word coming from your oncologist's mouth yanks you back on the cancer roller coaster from hell.

The problem is that any little 'abnormality' after a cancer diagnosis causes doctors to think that way. "With your history, we need to be sure, blah, blah, blah." This does not help. If you are a normal person and you go to the doctor with a headache, they ask if you have had your eyes checked, any allergies, and then rule out a thousand other things before they get to 'brain tumor'. If you are a cancer person and go to the doctor for a headache, they start with have you had your eyes checked (because even with cancer you need to get your eyes checked and go to the dentist) and then go directly to 'brain tumor' which results in a billion tests and medical 'adventures'.

Then if any test results are inconclusive, either you are subjected to a billion more tests or they switch to 'watchful waiting' which causes endless nightmares until they decide whether they were right or wrong.

The R-word is every cancer person's nightmare. For those who are coping with it - either its possibility or the reality of it - life is not easy. One friend who is coping is doing the right thing - a mini vacation in the middle of all the tests and medical adventures. Why not? I hope I would do the same thing if faced with it.

I know at my second cancer diagnosis, I went straight to denial. Not me. The difference between a second cancer and a recurrence is that a second cancer is mostly likely to be early stage - most cancers are diagnosed early and if you have already had cancer, you get all kinds of 'extra' medical adventures just to ensure you have the most fun in life. A recurrence if it is regional is probably a stage III and if to other body parts is usually stage IV both of which are considered to be late stage cancers.

To those of you dealing with the R-word as part of your life, I say make plans for your life in 20 years.

3 comments:

Nancy's Point said...

Yes, the dreaded "R" word is one that I think about more often than I'd like to admit. I don't dwell on it, but it's always there lurking...

A Knutson said...

Dealing with it every day in one way or another! No denial for me. It's hard for me to plan a year in advance and you're asking for 20?? Geese, that's a lot to ask for!!

Anonymous said...

I'm 31 and my R word is REMISSION. Screw recurrence, you can't stop it if it happens. It'll be caught early and we will still all be raising hell. I have babies to have!!!