Blood Cancer Breakdown

I was relaxing in the sunroom one morning reading when the phone rang. The caller, on that occasion, turned out to be that all-too-familiar automated voice asking for confirmation on an upcoming medical appointment. Before pressing #1 as directed to confirm or pressing the dreaded #3 to cancel or reschedule, I double-checked my calendar for any conflicts.

Overwhelmed by too many doctor's appointments

Suddenly, it hit. The impact of looking over the many blocked MD dates that month resulted in an unexpected emotional breakdown. Reality was there right in front of my eyes.

Before my blood cancer diagnosis, an automated scheduling call was routine. I would just hit #1 without thinking. Before cancer, doctors' appointments were confined to either routine 6-month dental checkups or an annual physical exam. Now, nothing was routine.

What is this appointment for?

It turned out that the many back-to-back medical appointments were taking on a whole new meaning. Scheduling calls were causing my stomach to churn in anticipation of what the next medical encounter would reveal. As I opened the calendar to check for conflicts, it suddenly registered—this appointment was “just” for a routine annual physical. Unlike other highly structured scheduled cancer checkups, this one was optional.

Saying NO to routine checks

I experienced a welcomed and sudden rush of personal power. YES … for the first time in months, I was in charge again. Fully energized with my newfound sense of control, I hit #3, canceling the one appointment not tied to a planned treatment schedule.

Over the course of my cancer journey, my calendar had been totally transformed. Rather than planning for business and speaking engagements, the appointment book was now filled with multiple MD engagements. The single act of defiance in hitting #3 confirmed  I was, for a short time at least, free.

Taking charge of my own schedule

No longer was I the vulnerable patient asking for help, or support or guidance. A few months later, I realized that numbing my responsibility to take charge of my health could impact other medical providers. I rescheduled.

With that new dawning, I realized a meaningful future required me to look at things differently. Just as life had changed from when I was a child and became a teenager and then evolved into an adult, it was now time for me to act my age and respond accordingly. I also needed to engage and embrace my long-forgotten God-given gifts and live my strengths rather than seeing myself as a victim of a disease.

I am more than a victim of disease

The first step was posting a note on the bathroom mirror with four simple words: EMBRACE … EMPOWER … EXPLORE …, and EXPRESS. The latter “Express” conveyed my need to look for ways to use my creative abilities to share my cancer experiences through writing and publishing. To do that, I then needed to “Embrace” who I was now compared to who I was prior to cancer.

To be able to tell my story I also needed to open up and compare my experiences with others and find a common bond. That meant “Exploring” how others were dealing with this thing called blood cancer. Finally, I needed to find ways to both “Empower” myself and, at the same time, allow myself to be vulnerable and to ask for help versus breaking down when it came to dealing with blood cancer. In the end, my 4 “E “words offered me a way to see things differently.

Who knows, perhaps one or two of those “E” words may someday help others who are on a similar personal journey with blood cancer.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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