By in Health & Fitness

Facing Another Diagnosis?

Some history

My last mammogram had been September 2012, just three months after I had surgery to remove a part of my intestines and a part of my liver.

When I heard that there was "calcification" that concerned the medical team, though they thought it was likely due to prior breast surgery, I think I "shut down." I have heard the words, "I'm sorry to inform you that you have cancer," twice.

In June 2007, it was Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)--breast cancer. I chose to have the affected breast removed three months later. Reconstruction came in 2008, which included lift surgery of the left breast for a better match.

In May 2012, I learned of Stage 4 Carcinoid Cancer/Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)--a systemic cancer, which started in my small intestine. I was given a prognosis--"six months to a year, two if you're lucky..."--from an ill-informed and somewhat arrogant surgeon, whom I subsequently "fired" from my case.

Words Can Make a Difference

His words really messed with my head, even though I have fought the thoughts that were planted in my brain. In May 2014, I realized that I had to let those words go, as I seemed to be waiting for the ball to drop. I made a conscious decision that I was not dying of anything, but living with it. This past year has been much more joyful.

But I learned yesterday that there is still some trepidation and that his words still bounce around in my head. I thought I was done with it.

I had not had a mammogram in two-and-a-half years. Perhaps, I did not see the point of it, if I were living on borrowed time. Yet, I found myself in the women's clinic for the diagnostic imaging yesterday, realizing that hiding from things does not make them go away.

"WHAT IF...?"

When I was asked to wait to get initial results from the radiologist, my mind started racing and I had thoughts about "WHAT IF...?"

WHAT IF I heard those words again, "I'm sorry to inform you..."?

It does not take long for the memories and fear to come flooding back in. I want to prepare myself for the worst in order to already start thinking about a plan. In those few moments of waiting, I began my plan of attack against this monster.

The results from yesterday were nothing to be concerned with. There was no change that concerned the radiologist, and I was told to come back in one year. Those few minutes of worrying were not necessary.

An Anniversary

I suppose it did not help yesterday that it was the third anniversary of my being in the emergency room and learning that I had liver tumors, which began the month-long process of testing to a diagnosis and a prognosis that would change me and how I think.

But I am ever-reminded that I can take myself down a path of thinking about the worst-case scenario, before it is necessary to concern myself with it.


WHAT IF I were to let go of the need to plan my next strategy? be in control of something I cannot control? simply live in the now without concern for tomorrow?

Sometimes, we (who might be control freaks) all need to change up our WHAT IF strategies.

© 2015, Coral Levang

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msiduri wrote on April 17, 2015, 11:22 AM

There are things you cannot change, but there are things you can control, such as your reactions. I don't mean to be morbid, but have your prepared for the worst in a practical sense? Do you have will drawn up so that your loved ones don't have to go through probate and that ugliness? Of course no one like the idea of facing one's on mortality, but making the most of time is a good idea. Mending fences, and—good god—enjoying yourself. Have a root beer float if you want one. If it's within your means, travel for pleasure. Doing what makes you happy. Plant a garden to enjoy the color. I don't know.

Having said that, I wish you the best.

rosepetal wrote on April 17, 2015, 11:50 AM

You are a very strong person. Sometimes planning a line of attack helps you to stay focused. To worry about it, does not help. But support of family is so vital. Take care.

CoralLevang wrote on April 17, 2015, 11:50 AM

Yes, I know these things and prepared for all that 3 years ago. Good words/great advice. And please know that this was written simply to record my day and feelings. This is not something that I am struggling with, though I was aware that there were old feelings that crept in. Awareness is truly a wonderful thing. Keeps us in check.
Thank you. :)

CoralLevang wrote on April 17, 2015, 11:54 AM

Isn't THAT the truth!? I have heard some ask, "How can you be so positive, when you are dying?" My response: "We are all dying. When are you going to die and of what??"

The reality is that I am living with cancer, not dying of it I could fall and hit my head on a curb and it's not the cancer that got me.
As far as my living another 50 years...that would put me at 110 (I turn 60 in August). If I can look good (for 110), and still have my brain, let's go for it! emoticon :winking:

CoralLevang wrote on April 17, 2015, 11:58 AM

Thank you, but I am just me. I am a big wimp compared to some people I know. We never know what strength we have--all of us--until we are put to a test.
I appreciate your statement, "Sometimes planning a line of attack helps you to stay focused." I think that some have seen my doing so, and they perceive that as "worry." I may very well have bought into their definition and perception of me. You have given me another way to look at myself. It is certainly something for me to ponder.

Yes, I am a ponderer, not a worrier.

Again, I thank you.

MegL wrote on April 17, 2015, 12:47 PM

I am so glad that there was nothing to worry about. Long may it be so.

CoralLevang wrote on April 17, 2015, 1:13 PM

Hear! Hear! Thank you! I appreciate those moments when I can breathe a sigh of relief. :)

wolfgirl569 wrote on April 17, 2015, 3:11 PM

Glad that it was nothing to worry about. But having already had cancer you would be more nervous than a lot.

Feisty56 wrote on April 17, 2015, 3:40 PM

I think surgeon's should be banned from speaking with patients -- most of them have the bedside manner of a broom, at best.

The issues I struggle with pale in comparison to yours, as they aren't potentially life-threatening, but they are life-altering. I have panic and anxiety issues that are longstanding. Control, or the perceived lack thereof, is a strong underlying current for me. I know all too well how thoughts, however unreasonable they may be, control my behavior. Awareness of our thoughts is the first step to gaining control over them. You are already well on your way. Enjoy the journey. : )

CoralLevang wrote on April 17, 2015, 4:24 PM

Me, too. Thank you so much. I try not to be nervous.

CoralLevang wrote on April 17, 2015, 4:28 PM

In all fairness, I have only encountered two surgeons in my lifetime with the broom-like manner. emoticon :winking: One was a resident, and the other this particular doctor I mentioned.

All of our struggles are equally as important. None of us is exempt. I, too, have dealt with anxiety, depression, etc. Took me several years to learn to deal with it, a number of years ago. I'm glad to have recognized and developed coping strategies before these diagnoses, otherwise, I'd have been S.O.L. emoticon :winking: Thank you for showing your vulnerability, as well. And damned that under-current!!! emoticon :winking:

valmnz wrote on April 17, 2015, 5:07 PM

I've always admired your attitude of living with something rather than dying with it. Your courage and positivity are a lesson for us all.

msiduri wrote on April 17, 2015, 6:23 PM

emoticon :smile: Awareness is all that. Again, my best to you.

CoralLevang wrote on April 17, 2015, 9:01 PM

Thanks, Val. I just don't know how to do it any differently. Thank you for your warmth and support of me.

celticeagle wrote on April 17, 2015, 9:58 PM

That is so true. Sorry to hear you are having these issues. I had a scare back in about 2006 when I had an abnormal mammogram. It was just a glitch or something. Had to go in and have it redone. Nothing thankfully. My mom and dad both died of cancers. Rectal and pancreatic. Now two of my BFF's family have also succumbed to the big C. Ugh!

Good luck to you. Hope all your what ifs are sufficient and that you can stay positive and persevere.

Last Edited: April 17, 2015, 10:00 PM

seren3 wrote on April 18, 2015, 9:28 PM

Oh whew! I am glad your test was negative.

I have had "the" diagnosis before. Now whenever I see a swelling or a feel an unusual pain I get into calming my reactions. So far so good!

crowntower wrote on April 29, 2015, 6:13 PM

When my doctor says that I might have a tumor, I leave it all to God, I need to take care of things I can take care and He is going to take of everything I can't control. Last week my hearing is back but the sound is still a little quite low... but the good thing is not hearing a sounds like a robot. I don't know why the others got healed in an instant and I am not... but I am so happy that God answered my prayer that day. They say I got tumor in 2012... but I just leave everything to God since I don't want to let my family got burden with the might be financial needed...

Just leave everything to God who has the control in everything that we don't have, seek cry out and knock and He will surely answer us. To Christ be the Glory for the result of your exam and for my hearing.

CoralLevang wrote on July 1, 2015, 11:15 AM

It's a horrible thing, the "big C." We need a f***ing cure.

CoralLevang wrote on July 1, 2015, 11:17 AM

It's not unusual for us to be nervous, but you are right. We have to calm our reactions. We also need to be proactive. If we've heard it once, or twice, we can hear it again. It's a thin line between reality and reactive.

CoralLevang wrote on July 1, 2015, 11:18 AM

I am glad that you are hearing again and that your God gives you the solace that you need. I hope all is well.

celticeagle wrote on July 2, 2015, 4:04 PM

Ar lest they have some treatments for many of the types of cancer. And diagnosis early is a help too. It is a battle and we do need a cure.