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.

2 thoughts on “When the Big C Isn’t”

  1. Loren:

    Your comments all week are especially thoughtful.
    I like the Hardy poem, too. I’d say Shakespeare
    has an equally good one, and Housman’s “When I was one and twenty” and his “Loveliest of Trees..” Do you recall Roethke’s Epidermal Macabre?

    Sorry about those heavy bills you’re opening lately. I hope you have explored all your
    options there to maximize your coverage. Fighting cancer is tough enough before you get the bills. Your carvings are TERRIFIC and I admire your work. I wonder if you’d put me on the purchase list for next Christmas for two snowmen?

    RE: Sri Lanka: visit the website of United Way of America for some useful info you might appreciate about the recovery plan.

  2. So glad to hear that someone wants to give hope to the ones who might have or get cancer. Don’t worry you’ll be with your family for so long 🙂

    I’ve missed my cousin…she was 28 and she had cancer, but the one thing which I admire on her is that she never gave up. She never did gave up, God I hate this cancer thing! It must be so hard…was it for you when you had it? How did you feel? I wanna know how she felt…I could never ask her…:(

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