Cancer survivor. I have been very fortunate to be able to say I have survived cancer and am indeed thriving. Questions asked when I was in for my Oncologist followup Dec. 12 included how I was feeling and how was my weight. Standard questions asked each and every time. My weight is actually up a couple pounds to 227. I did just get back from vacation, so I am sure that has much to do with that 🙂
As for how I am feeling? I spent 3 hours raking leaves and another 3 or 4 hours splitting firewood this weekend. I feel great. In general, I would have to say that if it wasn’t for the regular doctor visits and my medical reports (and the plastic bag glued to my belly), I wouldn’t know there was anything amiss at all. In the world of the cancer survivor, that is huge.
Cancer survivor followup with the Oncologist
The followup appointment itself lasted mere minutes. My Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm remains the same size with no notable increase in size. My blood work is still good, my good, but good. The only thing of note was my left retroperitoneal lymph node had swollen further. Last CT showed it at 11mm, this one has it at 14mm. Still not large enough for immediate alarm, but it is something we will have to keep an eye on. The information is inconclusive as to whether this is related to the bladder cancer, or the small lymphatic lymphoma, or exactly what. I will be having another CT Scan and followup in April to see what it is doing. At this time, there is nothing to be alarmed about and we are in a wait and see mode.
I jokingly commented, “Well that was 2 and a half hours well spent” referring to the drive down to the appointment. It was meant as levity. Dr. Joanne Vergidis suggested that perhaps in April we could just do a telehealth to avoid the drive. I immediately declined. I truly believe it is time well spent. The information of the appointment itself was a definite bonus and reinforces my cancer survivor feeling, but I find the drive to and from the BC Cancer Clinic in Victoria an important part of the process.
Yes, it is two and half hours each way, but it has the effect of pushing everything else going on in life to a back burner and putting the entire focus on cancer, treatment, and the process. The drive gives me time to think of anything I want to comment on, any questions I may want to ask, and to look into myself and think if there has been anything of note since our last meeting that I should bring up.
I find that valuable time of introspection and focus. This would be a time I would otherwise not have. I have had telehealth conferencing in the past and it is definitely convenient, but I did notice myself distracted by everything else that I needed to do in the day and what I needed to get done when the appointment was over. The drive to and from Victoria pretty much eliminates the possibilities of planning other things in the day and forces the much-needed self-reflection, prioritizing, and helps ensure a productive appointment.
Managing stress, both the normal day-to-day stresses of life, but also the specific stresses of being a cancer patient and cancer survivor, can be a challenge. However, it is possible to turn those forces into tools one can use to their own benefit. Training the mind to do so is a process, but one that can dramatically improve one’s outlook on all things. Some excellent titles mentioned by Dr. Rutledge in his webcast (view it here) can help train the mind to work for you even when it seems it is trying to work against you, (You can review the titles by clicking on their name).
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson, PhD.
Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence by Rick Hanson, PhD.
The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It by Kelly McGonigal, PhD.