Lessons Learned Kicking Cancer's Butt - Part 1
Thanksgiving is 3 weeks away. I KNOW. What the heck!? Not only am I not prepared for the cold, but I’m not itching to watch a Christmas movie...and let me tell you, THAT.IS.WEIRD. Typically about this time I’m reigning myself back from kicking on the holiday tunes.
But you know what? This past year, I’ve been practicing more mindfulness and being present and so, I’m taking this lack of Christmas spirit as one small sign that I’m here, in November. Progress. And because November is truly a month of gratitude, I want to share with you my story of kicking cancer’s butt and the lessons I learned from that journey.
I might not have realized it then, but the Big C gave me some gifts that will forever impact my life and my business.
LESSON #1: You can figure anything out, even if you DON’T have a smartphone.
Here we go....
I was working at a magazine publisher when I read about auditions at a small community theatre in Brooklyn. [Remember, I was living (or so I thought) the Sex in the City life, but that was only because I gave up the FAME life about 2 months into living in NYC. You see, I used to sing and dance, but like many actors, the steady paycheck and the health benefits were REALLY appealing.] I auditioned and got in and sang my heart out every night in a “theatre” that was actually in a church (there’s a good story there for sure). It was great.
At the end of the run, I noticed a lump in my neck and assumed I was just getting a cold or I was tired from pretending I was Bernadette Peters 4 nights a week. After it stayed there for a month or so, I felt that maybe it would be best just to have it checked out.
I was 23 years old and honestly, wasn’t even concerned that it could be something potentially bad. Ignorance is bliss sometimes ya know? We went through some tests, that all came up negative, and then I got distracted. Life gave me an opportunity: I left the magazine and went to a PR firm. And it gave me a curveball: my family back home in Missouri was experiencing a tragic loss in our family. It was a lot. And in my ignorance, I just chose to ignore the lump in my neck (which at this point had eliminated any jawline I had) and focus on my new job and my family.
Finally, 4 months after my initial tests, I decided I should probably go back to the doctor. Especially after my roommate’s brother (a doctor) expressed concern. At this point, the reality that I wasn’t invincible was starting to seep in and I began to feel concerned. They did a CT scan of my neck and it showed a high likelihood for metastatic papillary carcinoma and a biopsy was recommended.
OKAY, so HOLD UP! I was 24 years old at that time and I had NO IDEA what the eff that medical jargon meant. I had NO IDEA how to find a head and neck surgeon. I had NO IDEA what questions to ask. I had NO IDEA what I was doing.
But you know what? We all have natural instincts that kick in and help guide us where we need to go. We might not be taking the most direct route or the fastest, but we usually get there.
This is what I did:
I asked my doctor for recommendations
Once I had the doctor’s recommendations, I researched them (on a desktop because…#flip phone)
I checked my insurance and made sure I was following the protocol (This is when I became really familiar with referrals and pre-approvals) and that this recommended doctor was in my network
I made the appointment and learned in that step, how to get medical files transferred.
I researched what to expect in the biopsy
If you’ve ever been faced with something you’ve never done, I can almost guarantee you went through similar steps:
Ask those you trust for recommendations
Do your research
And know before you go
If you are feeling challenged and you aren’t sure what to do, start with the above and trust your instincts. You, yes YOU, can figure anything out. And I mean ANYTHING.
Have a kickass Monday!
Livin’ & Lovin’