The ‘C’ Word

It feels a bit strange to be writing this on my way to work. Like something so terrifying deserves a different setting. But when is the right time to talk about a cancer scare? I suppose there isn’t one.

So here goes nothing!

Just over a year ago I had my first real cancer scare. I didn’t tell anyone at the time, except my boyfriend. Not until after I knew it definitely wasn’t cancer. And even then I didn’t let him in on how scared I was or what I was really going through.

After a visit with my Endocrinologist, she suggested I take a 24 hour urine sample. Yes, it’s as gross as it sounds. The hospital gave me a giant bottle filled with a little bit of acid, and for 24 hours straight I had to collect my urine every time I used the bathroom. I used an old (but clean) ice-cream container before pouring it into the main bottle filled with acid. It even requires you to follow a certain strict diet so that you don’t accidentally get a false positive, which wasn’t hard for me since it was mostly to avoid citrus and tomatoes, neither of which I like.

About a week later I got the call from my Endocrinologist – my results were positive for a very rare but aggressive tumour. Neither of us saw that one coming! She said she didn’t want to go ahead with further testing and scans until we had repeated the 24 hour urine test to be sure. Good lordy, it was even worse the second time because I had to do it at work without anyone noticing.

And so began my week of torture. I had actually planned a little 4 day trip down the coast by myself, just to rest and relax, have some me time. I did still have a great time, but waiting for those results while I was away was agonising! I was surprised by my feelings, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted more. To get a negative result, or a positive… As crazy as that sounds.

I’d already gone through 12 months of being poked and prodded by every kind of specialist, and by then so many doctors had seen my boobs (from ECG’s and Echo’s) that I felt like I could walk down the street topless and not give a shit. I’d had 2 trips to the emergency room, and officially got over my fear of blood tests after having them weekly.

I was beyond ready for answers.

Is that so much to ask? I’d gotten to the point where I didn’t care what that answer was, I just wanted it. Whether it be cancer or a skin eating bacterial infection, just figure it out. But that sane part of my brain still REALLY didn’t want it to be a tumour. A tumour that not only usually gets caught late, but is also hard to find. I was in two minds, and spent an entire week arguing with myself like a loony person.

And then I got that second call from the doctor that I had been waiting for. My test had thankfully come back negative. What did I do differently the second time? I stopped taking my vitamins for the test, just in case. And guess what? Something in one of them was causing a false positive in my results. My doctors exact words “I’m so glad. You really didn’t want to have that kind of tumour!” Phew!

So I was tumour free. How did I feel about that? Equal parts elated, and disappointed. I was back to square one, there was no longer anything this particular specialist could do for me. I was someone else’s problem now. I do have to give her credit though, she was very sorry she couldn’t help me. She said that she hoped I wouldn’t give up, and I thank her for that.

I learnt something that week. I’ve heard so many times “at least it’s not cancer,” yeah that’s definitely a plus. But I’ve had many people with chronic illnesses say to me that some things are worse than cancer… And I agree with them.

Did you know that chemo is used to treat other illnesses as well, such as Lupus? Some people with Lupus have to have chemo for the rest of their lives just to stay alive, there’s never an end or a remission, there’s just pain and sickness every day for the rest of their lives. Yes, cancer is so bad, but I don’t think it’s the worst thing.

Sometimes being sick and not knowing why can be just as scary. I’m terrified of the dark and have been my whole life, I literally still sleep with a night light (don’t judge.) I hate the dark because I hate not being able to see what’s going on, it’s a fear of the unknown. That’s my worst fear. I sometimes wonder if I’d rather battle cancer than go through this not knowing what’s going on.

That being said, I don’t ever wish the feeling of thinking you have cancer, let alone the disease itself, on anyone.

So that’s the story of my very real cancer scare at the age of 28. Let’s face it, in this day and age, it definitely won’t be my last. I just know that next time, I won’t shut people out and deal with it on my own. Sickness can be so isolating, but it doesn’t have to be ❤

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