On Pushing Back an Oncology Appointment


Finally, I'm experiencing a little less worry on my cancer journey and gaining some freedom from cancer.

I certainly don't mean to gloat. It's just that last week was the first time in nine solid years that I've felt comfortable enough to push a cancer appointment back, only a few days, mind you—from Monday to Thursday—but I rescheduled it, nevertheless.

What happened was we returned from Christmas vacation and the night we got back, I received a recorded phone call from my oncologist's office. They were calling to confirm a routine appointment on Monday, but I had completely forgotten this appointment and previously scheduled a doctor's appointment for my son that day. My son's appointment was absolutely firm; it was impossible to get in to see this doctor unless you waited several months.

That meant changing my appointment with my oncologist. So on Monday, I called her office and changed our meeting date.

This is a huge development in my cancer journey—nothing appears to be immediately wrong with me! But more importantly, I'm feeling safer.

I don't know how many times I hastily scheduled appointments with my doctor because I'd found a lump, or a spot, or a dot of purple (which turned out to be a radiation tattoo.) I've raced downtown to see my sweet physician who always had the time to take me seriously. She'd check me out and give me a good bill of health. (Except that one time when the cancer really did come back.)

But now there seems to be no rush to see her. I can wait three days, at least.

Oh, happy day and hallelujah.

My editor would chide me for possibly calling down the evil eye with these statements. But it's 2020, and I don't feel like being superstitious.

Here's the deal: Cancer makes you inflexible. When you have it, it's as though you're on a conveyor belt that you can't get off of. You ride from one appointment to the next, one treatment to the next, and you certainly don't cancel anything!

But as you gain your health back, your flexibility returns.

Cancer also makes you very afraid. It is your master, and your actions are dictated by it.

But when it's been gone for a while, you get a smidge cocky, cocky enough to push a routine appointment back three days.

Cancer makes you gloomy. Remember that little cloud that hung over Joe Btfsplk, the cartoon character in Li'l Abner? It's like that. It's like you have your own personal grey cloud that hangs above you.

But after a few years of cancer inactivity, you feel less gloomy.

The upshot is I'm certainly not going to stop going to cancer appointments, but I can relax a little.

So, what will I do from Monday to Thursday? Stop in the chapel and say a prayer, thanking God that I'm still alive. Definitely not worry. If the doctor finds something, she finds something. But I think I'm clear for this round. Maybe do a little shopping too. Kick back and forget about cancer for a few days.

I can't tell you what a treat it is to not have to race to the doctor's office in a panic of worry over a cancer scare.

I'm not gloating. I'm just grateful.

So grateful.

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Dr. Kelly Stratton
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