Operation healthcare team: complete
Because I did not feel like my old primary care physician’s (pcp) office took my breast concern seriously, I refused to see a pcp until I found a new one.
One of my coworkers referred me to her new pcp and he sounded amazing. So, I made an appointment immediately.
His office is about 40 minutes away from my house, but I’m willing to go the distance for a doctor I can trust.
As soon as I walked in, I could tell the vibe was completely different.
“It says here that you’re looking to establish care and that you also need to get cancer treatment,” the assistant said.
“No,” I smiled. “I’ve already started treatment. Just looking to find a new primary care doctor that fits with my cancer care team.”
The assistant took my vitals and assured me the doctor would be in shortly.
Let me start by saying my experience with great doctors on my cancer journey started with my OBGYN. She was the first doctor to take my concern seriously and referred me to a specialist right away. The breast surgeon she referred me to was a godsend and everyone there after (minus one swap out) has been amazing, but my experience with this guy was really different.
In addition to him being thorough, he was sincere. He made me laugh … and cry. And he was genuinely concerned about my health and willing to investigate a couple of issues that had been left on the table by other doctors, but were certainly affecting my quality of life.
The one thing that struck me was how comfortable he was talking to me about God and boy, did I need a word that day!
I was explaining to him how I ended up at his office and the mishaps along the way. I had started to complain that I wasn’t sure I’d be ready in time for radiation because someone sat on my referral for too long and I wouldn’t have enough time in physical therapy.
He stopped me in my tracks.
“Woah. Woah. Woah,” he said. “You cannot half-time me. I’m not that kind of doctor. All of the stuff you were nice enough to share with me about who dropped the ball and what didn’t get done on time doesn’t matter.”
I was stunned.
“You don’t think God knew that was going to happen? You have every reason to throw yourself a pity party right now, but you don’t have time for that,” he said. “You cannot move forward dwelling on everything that went wrong in the past. You have to keep your focus upwards and forward because this is going to be a hard fight.”
“It’s already been hard,” I cried.
He came over and jokingly tried to sell me tissues to wipe the tears from my face.
“I know it’s been hard and God knew it was going to be hard. I’m no stranger to praying for people who were paralyzed on one side and watching them walk out of my care healed.”
He shot me a side eye that said “You know who does miracles” and pointed towards the ceiling.
“You’re going to be fine,” he said. “You can do all things with God, but only with God. And you have to be positive and focused on the right things.”
I cried as I drove back home.
I didn’t feel brave or strong. I felt defeated.
The impact of having cancer goes far beyond the operating table and that’s not something most people understand.
I was frustrated with the expectation from some people that six weeks after having a bilateral mastectomy I should be happy go lucky and doing back flips when my world was still in pieces. I still had treatments, procedures and surgeries to undergo. I still had major life decisions to make in a short amount of time.
I was frustrated with myself because I felt like I was failing those same people by not living up to their unrealistic expectations of how I should be and feel because I “looked good.”
Heck, why would I let myself look bad if I could help it?!?
At this point, I was physically exhausted and my spirit was weak. I was tired of making tough decisions and tired of feeling like a stranger in my own body.
That evening, I prayed God would lift the burdens I was carrying.
My doctor was right. I could not move forward looking behind me. I needed to stay focused on the tasks at hand. I needed to look ahead and and look to God. I needed a reset and I needed to rest.
So, I went back to God and asked He lead the way. I told Him I would follow and, as always, I prayed that He make a way where it felt like there was none whenever we came up against an obstacle.
The saying is true — challenges can make you bitter or they can make you better. And I was dancing way too close to being bitter.
I had to give myself permission to feel how I felt, regardless of what other people thought. I had to give myself time to grieve the loss of my body as I knew it and the life I had grown accustomed to. I had to stop trying to make sense of everything happening while it was happening because it is far too much to comprehend at once.
And in the words of T.D. Jakes, I needed to remind myself that I was a human being and not a human doing.