The initial consult with my oncologist, post surgery, left my head spinning by the time I left the office. So many questions were left unanswered. The oncologist went through everything so quickly–text book style. My Uncle had accompanied me. My aunt, his wife, wanted to be there as well–but had come down with something the day prior. It kept me grounded having my uncle there with me. The way a dancer finds some immovable object to focus on as she spins around and around, my uncle was my emotional focal point.
In the office I was given a five or six page printout, to read when I got home, about the side effects of the chemotherapy agents I would be given. Seriously? That many pages in eight point font? My knowledgeable oncologist had overlooked the fact that I’m a full-time student, single mother of two, chauffeur for after school/weekend activities, home chef, laundry connoisseur and all around busy person. My frustration levels rose once I got home and began to realize all of the unanswered questions I had. Info packets are great for childhood vaccines and what type of pet insurance you need to purchase, even cancer diagnosis, but not for cancer treatment. I’m a very social person by nature, I thrive upon human interaction. I need my oncologist to go over everything and then some with me, so I can ask questions then and there.
It took a day or two to get my bearings but I was back to normal in no time. Once I started thinking logically, I had a different mind set. Read the packet, this is your health, your body, your life. Highlight, underline anything you have questions about. On a separate sheet of note paper, write down your questions, your concerns. Take back your power, not from the oncologist, but from the fear of having to go through chemo by asking more questions than a two-year-old beginning to speak.
Monday, February 10, 2014, rolls around–this is the beginning of bi-weekly meetings. Ready with my list of questions, I eagerly listened to what my oncologist had to say as I patiently waited for my chance to interject. He let me know how my treatments would need to be scheduled for the next six months. Our oncology appointments would be every other Monday, followed by blood work the same day. Every other Tuesday, the day following my appointment/blood work, chemotherapy would be administered through my power port–“Penny” my good luck charm, my little life-saver as I like to call her.