Sunday, June 20, 2010

Scanxiety Revisited

I have lost count of the times we have made this trip to Houston over the past eight years. Thirty, maybe? I'm not complaining. in fact, I'm grateful that Jim is alive and able to get here. We have hit every season and most holidays. While it is not a "home away from home," we have established a comfortable routine some of which is enjoyable.

Today we braved the heat and walked to Rice Village for a late lunch and dessert at Ruggles. We topped the afternoon off with 90 minute foray in the second hand book store. The eight books we bought served as hand weights for the trip back to the hotel. If I were trapped alone in a n elevator (one of my fears)I could survive if I had just come from the bookstore. I could probably even endure solitary confinement in enemy territory (another fear) if my captors threw in a book every day or so. I'd prefer something other than political propaganda, but if that's all they offer, I hope it's well written.

I've already finished one of the books, Very Nice Ways to Say very Bad Things: An Unusual Book of Euphemisms. The thesaurus for every writer who has struggled with the right words for a delicate subject. Funny, but I doubt I'll use any of the bawdy alternatives in my upcoming articles.

Also bought: Game Change (an inside look at the 2008 presidential campaigns), Every last One by Anna Quindlen, Somewhere Inside by Laura and Lisa Ling, Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson, and a few books on writing. I hope they are engaging enough to distract me from the real purpose of the trip.

Those of you who read my book will understand when I say that I am holding at Code Yellow.I'd like to think that I've made progress in handling the pre-scan anxiety. More likely I'm in denial--which is exactly where I'd like to stay. Thank you very much. I'm quite comfortable here with my head in the sand. My rational mind is telling me that the cancer has not had time to outsmart the last round of drugs,so we're safe for a while.

I hope the anxiety level will hold through Tuesday when we get results. Unfortunately fear is like grief. We never know when it will overtake us. I just have to keep my mind on what I do know: God is in control and God is good.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ten things Not to Say to a Caregiver

1. "God never gives you more than you can handle."
If you say this to a caregiver, you are implying she/he should be able to cope with whatever comes his way. God frequently gives us more than we can handle so that we learn to depend on Him.

2. "My dad (mom,friend, uncle) died from this kind of cancer."
Not what the loved one of a cancer patient wants to hear. Don't even mention death to someone in the midst of cancer battle.

3. "Did he smoke?"
Why do you need to know? Will it make you feel better if the patient got his "just desserts." No one deserves lung cancer--or any other kind. Maybe you're hoping to find a cause that exempts you from contracting the disease. Give up. No one is exempt.

4. "How long did they give him?" or "What's the prognosis?

Again, none of your business. Besides no one knows the answer.

5. "You should try alternative medicine. Chemo is a killer."
Trust me. Better minds than yours are developing treatment strategies. Pumpkin seeds might have helped your yeast infection, but cancer requires big guns.

6. "You should go to ________ for treatment."
Don't use the word "should" with a caregiver. If you have personal, positive experience with a reputable physician or treatment center you might pass on names.

7. "God will heal you--if you have enough faith."
Say nothing to add to the already heavy burden of the caregiver. This philosophy implies that the outcome of the cancer is directly proportional to the faith of the patient or his loved ones. Bull feathers!

8. "Everything will be all right."
Are you omniscient? Do you have ESP? A crystal ball? Then don't make predictions. Early in the cancer journey, the only "all right" I could have accepted was complete--and fast--healing.

9. "I know just how you feel."
I doubt it.

10."You just have to have faith."
Where might I get some?