3 WAYS TO COPE WITH FRIENDLY FIRE AFTER CANCER DIAGNOSIS
R.G. was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to undergo surgery to remove all her thyroid tissue. However according to her surgeons, they had difficulty removing the whole thyroid gland because she was bleeding profusely. Thus, there was a small portion left to provide the thyroid hormones that she needed. She opted not to have radioactive iodide uptake to kill all her thyroid tissues. Some of her friends questioned her decision and even relayed their concern to a mutual friend who chose to respect and support R.G. in her treatment plan.
I, for one, also received friendly fire from well-meaning friends and relatives about the management of my breast cancer. One dear friend also referred me to a good medical oncologist for second opinion as I pondered upon what treatment plan to adopt. Only my immediate family knew about my cancer diagnosis, some I even informed just a few days before my surgery. When I went on indefinite leave from the hospital, I only told a few, not even a handful, like our medical director, the president of the Medical Staff Organization (MSO) and a good friend internist about my reason.
If you are faced with a major decision as to how to manage your cancer, you can cope with friendly fire when they come through three ways.
If a close relative expressed disappointment that you chose another surgeon instead of approaching him for help, do not be dismayed. Do not challenge him head on but ask what are his plans. Your relative only has your best interest at heart. Determine if there are differences in the management from your present attending physician. Ask him to clarify the facts and if there are scientific basis to his suggestions, especially if it is contrary to what you already know. But at the end of the day, you will be the one to decide.
Every cancer patient and their relatives want the best treatment plan in order to recover and not go on relapse. It is but natural to go shopping for doctors who can help one to overcome cancer. The considerations may be varied like financial concerns, side effect of chemotherapy and other treatment and even aesthetics. It is up to the patient, especially when she is able and in her right mind and of legal age to choose what he or she thinks will work well for her health and well-being. She has to weigh every decision as to the choice of the type of surgery, duration of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy as well as additional work ups for monitoring of her cancer. The final decision rests on the patient's hand because she will be the one who will be directly affected. She knows her body well and how she will react to the treatment and if she can handle the side effects, especially of the chemotherapy which may not even distinguish the healthy cells from the cancer cells. Her choice may also affect her outcome, especially if it was just forced on her. She has better chances of recovery if she totally agrees and believes in the treatment plan.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, it was a shock. I thought and assumed that since I am a doctor serving my patients, I will be spared of this fatal illness. During my chemotherapy, I felt as if I was dying inside. There was a menthol sensation from my nose to my forehead and I ended up having a headache. After my chemotherapy session, upon reaching home, I rushed to the bathroom and hugged the toilet bowl because I was vomiting everything I had in me. The expensive medicine that I took orally and received intravenously did not do their job to prevent the side effect. But I was able to recover because the big C in me is not cancer. It is Christ in me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens and heals. With God, all things are possible. I need not be afraid but just believe that my healing is within reach. Indeed, it is possible because after nine years from my diagnosis and about five years after my treatment, I am still cancer free. To God be the glory!