Tuesday, October 11, 2016

After the Diagnosis

serendipity - n.  the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way
~ The New Oxford American Dictionary

Serendipitous moments - discovering a book that helped me through a rough spot, coming across a quote that perfectly captured my feelings at the time, a friend's words of wisdom that opened a new possibility, meeting John the only time he had ever visited Kansas City - have peppered my life in many happy and beneficial ways.  I cherish these moments and try to stay open to their unexpected appearance.  

So, it didn't surprise me much this past week when I opened the October issue of Real Simple, one of my favorite magazines, and discovered After the Diagnosis, by Jennifer Kind Lindley, words of advice for those of us grappling with the news of a serious illness and wondering how to proceed with the information.  Or in my case, wondering if what I/we have been doing is enough.  Serendipity.  Perfect timing.  

The four page article is well worth the read.  It is thorough, well-written, and supported with statements by experts and those who have been through the challenges. Some things I learned -
  • that according to a 2010 Gallup poll, 70% of respondents said they would not seek a second opinion after a medical diagnosis.  This statistic amazed me.  It was our second opinion that gave us a glimmer of hope and also strengthened our trust in our local hematologist.  Not only did he support the decision, but he acted quickly to help make it happen. 
  • that it helps to organize the deluge of paperwork that inundates you.  This was a task I hadn't done along the way.  Doing so when we came home was an immediate accomplishment that gave me a modest sense of control.  Although I chose a low-tech three ring binder, the article suggests electronic solutions as well. 
  • that there are financial assistance programs available even for those folks who consider themselves financially stable.  I wish I had known this the last time John was ill.  We took a financial beating that possibly could have been allayed a little.
  • that sharing information is a way to gather support expediently and efficiently.  We are using this blog and e-mails, but there are also websites that provide a way to share news with one's network of family and friends like CaringBridge.org,  CarePages.com and PostHope.org. 
Most of all, the article assuaged our concerns.  If this were a test, I/we would pass with flying colors.  We did our homework; asked the right questions (thank you, Leah and Matthew); not only went for a second opinion, but went to the center of excellence for this disease; broke the news honestly and directly; and gathered a network of support.  Some days just knowing you've done your best and that your best was good enough is a major reason to celebrate.

P.S.  John has gone through his first treatment cycle, chemo delivered via subcutaneous shots, with no other side effects than fatigue.  This morning he woke saying he hasn't felt this good in two months. Another small victory.  Another reason to celebrate!


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