by Christie Perkins
My doctor appointments were 2 weeks apart. I had just seen my oncologist and everything checked out fine. There were some new things I had to consider concerning preventative measures but I was walking straight down the line of fine, as far as we could tell. I was tempted to cancel the second appointment, the one with my radiation doc. What possibly could pop up in 2 weeks?
It was ridiculous because I was seeing this doctor for the same thing anyway: checking on the well being of my situation.
For some time I had been contemplating ditching my doctor appointments altogether. If I was okay, then what was the point. I was plotting a new plan of action: call the cancer center and tell them that I was graduating myself to 6 month check ups. Yes, I liked this thought. Though, yes, I liked seeing my great doctors and staff on a personal level but seriously? This frequent visiting was useless and it was eating my money.
Twice a year should suffice.
Should I Ditch the Frequent Doctor Visits?
You see I had finished all my chemo treatments 2 years prior (and radiation treatments were wrapped up 18 months ago). Practically everyone else I knew had graduated onto 6 month check ups or year check ups at this stage of the game. I, however, could not pass up the 3 month check ups.
Every stinking 3 months. Bleh.
Actually it was more like every month and a half because my oncologist saw me every 3 months and my radiation doc saw me every 3 months. That’s eight times a year I was seeing docs to have the same baseline conversation. I thought I was fine. And there were no big indicators that I wasn’t fine.
“How are you feeling?” my doctor asked.
“Still tired. But I’m good. So, uh… am I ever going to get my energy back?” I always had the same question. As this was always my battle. My energy zip was out of whack. I wanted it back. I tried to go back to playing basketball but when I did it would zap me for most of the day. My constant lack of energy frustrated me. I would wake up tired from a full-bed-hogging nights sleep.
“I’m sure you’re okay. You’re just trying to bounce back after chemo and radiation. We were really aggressive with your treatment. It takes a while.” My doctors would echo each other.
Boy, oh boy. Sure does, I guess.
“Ok,” I say. Then I would question my reason for coming. Not that I felt my docs were neglecting me, no way. Not at all. But there were never really any concrete answers to how I felt. Time seemed to be the only solution. With every doctor appointment I would head into it with sparkly hopeful eyes that I would graduate to 6 months. And every appointment I would come out disappointed that I couldn’t even pass the kindergarten stage of cancer check ups.
I even did my homework. You know: tried to exercise, eat healthy, have a good attitude. (Not that you can control the cancer bugger but I was making my own psychological attempt.)
But why on earth did I have to come so often? They would always tell me that everything was fine. Then it seemed that one small insignificant thing would guide their thoughts. I would exit the visit with the same line, “I was going to bump you to six months but I think we better keep you on three.”
So, one day as I was contemplating plethora of doctor visits when I was impressed with a very strong impression. You have been praying that the doctors will know how to help you. You need to trust them.
And how could I battle that? Well, that, and my husband who firmly said, “You are not missing any appointments.”
But no one understood my thoughts. Didn’t my thoughts matter? I was fine. I let my husband know, “But I just went to the doctor. I’m good. There’s no need to pay for another doctor visit.”
“Nope. You’re not missing,” he said.
I guess I had to put my trust into action. I couldn’t claim that I trusted my Heavenly Father and then disregard the simple little actions to do what was asked of me. So, at two doctor appointments, two weeks apart, I was showing that I trusted that He knew what He was doing.
A couple of days before I was to see the doctor a lump appeared. It’s a good thing I didn’t cancel. And that is the power of not only trusting, but following what your certain will not do you any good.
He is always more wise.
A New Lump
I was just getting home from the young women activity in November 2015 when I noticed that my necklace was all skeewampus. I reached up and grabbed the clasp to tuck it behind my neck. I was surprised when I felt a lump.
It was small. An itty bitty thing. I’m actually surprised I found it at all.
I squashed it. Then, recalling my previous lumps I decided it must not be anything to worry about. This was much more squishy. Still firm but an element of slosh convinced me I was fine. My previous lump was solid, firm; immovable.
I mentioned the lump to the doctor and he felt it. His impression was the same as mine. Yep. Nothing to worry about.
However. I’m sure the prayers I constantly padded my doctors with were falling into effect. “I’m not concerned it’s cancer, especially after all the aggressive treatment you’ve gone through. But because of who you are and your history I want it checked.”
He scheduled an ultrasound for that afternoon.
Wow. That was quick. Another indicator that my doctors thoughts were being guided by my prayers. And I have to say I’m giving a major hats off to the power of prayer.
Ultrasound, Ultra Smooth.
I came home from the ultrasound not worried at all. They indicated that I needed to do a manual check on it to make sure it wasn’t growing. I was fine.
Well… I was fine until my doctor called me that night indicating that they thought it was a reactive lymph node- or that I had an infection somewhere. Yes, the overall outlook was okay but there was a question that laced the results. It was this question that concerned me. Well, that, and the fact that he was calling me.
I’m assuming he was following his impressions when he said, “I ordered another ultrasound in 3 months.” Wait, 3 months? That seems a little soon especially if everything was okay. Here I was again hoping for a 6 month landmark. Three was becoming my least favorite number.
I kept thinking about what all of this unnecessary testing was costing me.
But, once again he was being guided by prayer. I had to trust him.
A little concerned knot began to form in my stomach. About 3 weeks later I found a lump on my head. I told no one about it, barely mentioning it to my husband.
In less than 2 months I was back in for another ultrasound. A series of events came crashing down. It started with a common cold. I have never felt so horrible from a cold. My body didn’t seem like it could fight it. A little thought told me that something was up. I was disregarding my neck lump because it seemed to change- grow and shrink, grow and shrink but all the while it was still getting bigger (even with the shrinking episodes) and never disappearing. But still, the fact that it was changing at all had me convinced it was fine.
I think I live well in denial.
But, I couldn’t shake the thought that I needed to call the cancer center and tell them everything that’s been going on the last year: the constant cough for over a year, frequent migraine symptoms without the headache, my cold that had me all wimpy gimp, my energy levels that peaked in July 2015 but seemed to be on a constant downfall, sleep that never found me rested. And, of course, the head lump… I assumed it was a reactive lymph node also.
Testing began immediately.
So, the rest is history. In less than 2 months from my original ultrasound I had another ultrasound which lead to a brain MRI. That lead to a PET scan from my thighs to just above my eyes. And stage 4 metastatic breast cancer was confirmed.
And I think where I would be now if I didn’t trust my doctors? What if I didn’t pad them with prayer? What if I followed the temptation to put myself on a six month check up plan instead of the three? What if?
But I didn’t give in to that temptation, gratefully. I was hesitant, yes. I was doubtful at times, yes. But, I was stepping forward blindly, believing that God knew what he was doing. I had to trust him and my doctors that even the little petty things did matter. Petty things like kindergarten 3 month check ups.
I believe this little things will squeak out a little more life, maybe a lot. That is a gift. I have learned a great lesson of learning to trust, follow, and find.
So. If you have gained anything at all from this I hope that you will take today and trust in what you are doing (as a mother, father, friend, work, whatever). Follow those seemingly unnecessary tasks. And find something greater than you realized you ever would. Set it as a daily pattern in your life and I believe you will find some of the greatest of life’s treasures and gifts.
Today’s first prerogative is to trust. But, don’t neglect the hardest step: to follow.
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