When the Big C Isn’t

I was first diagnosed with cancer nearly thirty-five years ago. I had a tumor removed from my neck and, while it wasn’t cancerous, there was a small piece of thyroid attached to it that was cancerous.

My first reaction to the diagnosis was, predictably, panic. I was too young to die. My children needed me. My wife seemed even more distraught than I, and the fact that I just plain wasn’t willing to talk about dying seemed more disturbing to her than the fact that I was about to die.

My doctors said I should have my thyroid removed immediately. Despite my protests I had to finish the yearbook before surgery, friends urged me to have surgery immediately. I finally scheduled the surgery for that week, but when I went to get an x-ray to determine the extent of the cancer they couldn’t find any sign of it, and I had second thoughts.

After considerable research, my surgeon finally recommended I take synthroid to shut off my thyroid and delay the surgery until there were further signs that the cancer was spreading. Though I understand that that probably wouldn’t be the current recommendation, I’ve lived with it quite well since. Now I seldom think about it. Current research even seems to indicate some older people have relatively benign forms of thyroid cancer that go undetected throughout life and end up having no real effect on their lives or lifestyles.

I’ve been diagnosed with three different forms of cancer and there’s always something shattering about the diagnosis. Still, sometimes it’s CANCER — and sometimes it’s just cancer. There are many different forms of cancer and some are much more treatable than others.

In other words, don’t panic if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer; it’s not an automatic death sentence. Get the best possible advice you can. Get a second opinion if you feel you need one. Consider options carefully. Don’t let fear paralyze you or drive you to irrational decisions.

Death comes too soon.
No reason to let fear
rob you of today.