Recently after 18 years in my current job I decided to take a new job at new company all the way across the country. I moved from Massachusetts to Portland, OR. Looking back over these past nine weeks I have learned a lot about myself. I now know I was very “star struck” when I took this job. Definitely a, wow they want me, moment and I failed to ask enough questions or the right questions for fear that this opportunity would be taken away. I underestimated how hard this move was going to be on myself and on the life I had built back home. I did not even imagine that after my cancer battle the stress this is putting on my body, mind and spirit would be this overwhelming. Physically I am exhausted, mentally I am tired and career wise I am more challenged and stretched than ever. My life is now work and sleep. Email consumes my off work time and I find myself nose in laptop until bed.
One reason why I think I did not question my ability to make this move was that I had moved several times before for work and it always worked out. I also never faced the fact that I had cancer. Instead I did what I do and I plowed through to reach the finish line. I grabbed my metal and my water and I moved on to the thoughts of my next great race.
The one thing having cancer did teach me was to take care of myself. I am doing somewhat of a better job of this lately. Still have a ways to go and I am trying harder and harder each week. One thing I am being diligent about is my three month checkups. I have read, researched and studied and I know ovarian cancer has a very high rate of return. So I found a new oncologist and made my nine month post chemo appointment.
For the most part everything went well. My cancer protein blood test, CA125, was negative again. Hoorah! The dr was very smart and very sweet. He took my hand at the end of the appointment and told me I was doing a good job and that he would “take care of me.” I almost cried because I felt he was being sincere. The funny thing about the appointment was that he questioned some things that were done a Dana Farber. Believe me, he gave credit to their amazing work but asked why we did six rounds of chemo versus three and reevaluate, Why did they not do a test on my tumor that looks for a chemical build up before jumping to Lynch Syndrome. Why did they see the lesions on my spine and not move forward with the MRI when I am saying I have chronic pain. He disagrees that my leg, hip and back pain are post chemo related. So he scheduled an MRI for this Friday to be sure the lesions on my spine are not tumors. He is trying to get my tumor samples to test for the chemical build up on my promoter cells. He is working to help me minimize my surgical menopause symptoms so I can sleep without using hormones to do it.
I go into this much detail because I consider myself to be a smart women who has been in and out of hospitals for most of my life. Dana Farber is world class at treating and beating cancer and I owe them my life. I begin to believe though that each doctor and each hospital has guidance to treat but that not one of them does it the same. Each feels one belief or scientific discovery is deeper or better than the next. It comes down to three versus six and MRI’s versus chest xrays but really it is my life. It is my life that you are trying to save and I want you to be the best. I am not alone in this feeling. Everyone feels this way. Medicine though is scary and confusing and if you are not dgging and reading then you might not get the best care. You might get what your doctor believes is the best care and that is too scary to bet your life on.
This move is hard and looking back I wished I had not done it. Maybe that will chnage or maybe not. I am giving myself a year to figure it out. I firmly believe that eveything we do in life teaches us something. I know that if I had not had a new oncologist that I would not have relized how much I need to be my own advocate in the confusing often scary world of medicine and other bad things.