And helped to save my life
As I mentioned in this article, about my cat Snoopy, she correctly diagnosed me with cancer before my doctors did. She was my “cat scan”.
Over 15 years ago, she and I were in our new home in Texas. I missed Colorado, and I am sure she did too, since she grew up there. But we comforted each other by cuddling together. She would lie with her head on my right breast while I read.
Then one day she stopped doing that. In fact, the few times her paw came in contact with my breast, she became gingerly. She avoided a part of my body she’d never avoided before.
A few weeks after this, my breast hurt. It swelled up and the skin became pitted, like the skin of a grapefruit. It flushed red. I was worried, and went to the doctor. He referred me to a specialist, who basically panicked.
The panic was palpable as I sat in the waiting room. He said he’d run some tests. I went home terrified. I couldn’t sleep that night.
Within 24 hours, I was called back into his office. My husband at the time went with me.
The doctor talked very rapidly.
I had inflammatory breast disease. I had only 6 months to live. I needed to immediately remove both of my breasts, have chemo and radiation, and I needed to have it done NOW NOW NOW.
He started to pull up dates so we could schedule the operation.
I tried to interrupt. I needed to ask questions. I needed time to process. The information was hitting me really hard and I was not ready to make decisions.
Thank God for my ex-husband. When the doctor ignored my attempts to speak, my ex yelled at him.
“Shut up! You need to listen to her!”
Yes, the doctor was concerned for me. He wanted to save my life. He was freaked out because he was the expert in the room. He knew how deadly this type of cancer was.
None of that made a difference.
Because, it was MY body. _I_ needed to be the one who made the decisions. Even if eventually I decided to do everything exactly as my doctor wanted… I needed to decide this.
And in order to get to that point — I needed to take the time to process the information, to feel the emotions. Only then could I figure out what was best for me.
But I needed to be in control.
Cancer is dreaded. We talk about it in hushed tones. Any cancer diagnosis hits you hard.
But finding out that your particular type of cancer is one of the most aggressive… that it has an 18 year survival rate of just 15%… this doesn’t just hit you hard. It’s life altering. You are in a fight for your life against overwhelming odds.
And you can’t fight for your life as a passive observer.
In order for me to have any hope at all of getting through that fight alive, I needed to be an active participant in my own recovery, not merely the subject of a doctor’s treatment plan, no matter how good the doctor or the plan.
So I am glad my ex yelled at my doctor. By helping me take back control, he helped me save my life.