Health Monitoring After Cancer: Should You Let Stuff Go?


When it comes to routine eye checkups and other appointments not directly related to my cancer, I become lax.

I was receiving a stern and deserved lecture from my eye doctor. “It’s been too long since you have been here.”

“Oh, two years,” I replied. Since I waited five years before that appointment, I was actually proud of myself.

“No, it has been three and a half years,” he corrected me. Time does fly when you are having fun and I must have been having a lot of it! I deserved this lecture and knew it. I have a family history of glaucoma and the beginning of cataracts. I have some vision insurance and live down the street from the office, so that is not an excuse, either. The main reason I went in today was because I had read that chemo causes cataracts. Since I had been on various chemos for eight years, I wanted to check it out.

I don’t know about other cancer survivors, but I do find it hard to balance all my medical appointments. I never miss chemo and always go for my bone marrow biopsy every six months. I immediately let my doctor know if I have an infection, so I can be put on an antibiotic. I faithfully see my family practitioner and dentist twice a year. I have my hearing checked often because the chemo has affected that, too. I also have to go in regularly to have my hearing aids taken care of. The main reason for this is because without them, I just cannot hear!

But when it comes to routine eye checkups and other appointments not directly related to my cancer, I become lax. I think because so many of my appointments focus on my blood cancer, I just find it difficult to find time for the other things. I try not to worry constantly about my health, and every time I am in any doctor’s office, that ugly beast reminding me that I have a chronic disease rears its head. It is not logical for me to wait so long between appointments, since I am deafened already, and need my vision more than ever. It is an emotional reaction from me.

I do think about cancer and all its side effects. I try not to over-focus, and think that every single twinge or pain of my body is caused by the cancer. I hate picking up the phone and making more appointments. I find sitting in waiting rooms is annoying, so I don’t always do what I should.

I did meekly tell the eye doctor I had been going in for chemo five days a month for awhile, but even that was lame since I stopped over a year ago. I should have been to him sooner — period.

When I was working, I was usually given positive evaluations for being organized. So I do not even have this excuse. Although some people would think my apartment is not organized, I do know where everything is most of the time!

I am not making excuses. I am just tired of medical appointments and let it go. I deserved the lecture I know. I need to be more balanced in my health choices. I need to take a break sometimes, and go watch some television or go out with my friends and family. That is a balance too!

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