As with many things in life, there are rules and there are exceptions. And in the medical field this is applicable more often than not.
Leading up to surgery, I was informed of the “rules” – what to expect, how I should feel, how my body would react. Of course the “exceptions” were mentioned, however, they were just that. With chemotherapy, the same held true. Statements such as “generally speaking you will experience _____” or “most patients will have _____ happen.” In other words, over 90% of the time, symptoms, side effects and outcomes could be predicted.
But my desire was strong to be the “exception” – with everything! Call it the Wonder Woman Warrior in me. And while in some cases I have been, in others I’ve succumbed to being a “rule.” With that, the mental warfare that exists in my head is like Katniss battling President Snow – a constant!
So here is what I have experienced thus far…
After having officially determined my diagnosis to be endometrial cancer, I discussed with my doctor what could have been the cause. Endometrial cancer is linked to obesity with the obesity factor causing mortality versus the cancer itself. Coupling my sister’s cancer and Lynch Syndrome, an inherited disorder, it is more than likely my cancer stems from genetics (more testing to come to determine that) as that trumps everything in the world of medicine.
The Verdict? – Exception
A Radical Hysterectomy is very common in today’s world with a quarter of a million performed each year. The variable of course is “why” but generally speaking the procedure is similar for most. The difference is in the recovery with some experiencing more difficulty than others. Walking my first night was a pleasant surprise to the nurses as was working within 24 hours post surgery. Exercising two weeks post op along with playing golf four weeks after are not the norm. I can only attribute my strength pre-surgery to having a smooth and fast recovery.
The Verdict? – Exception
A myriad of rules and exceptions exist with how a patient responds to treatment. And while the medical field can predict that a patient will have side effects, it’s hard to know to what extent until after the first round. My desire with treatment was to not experience fatigue. More so than any other side effect, I could handle them all but that. Hair loss, joint pain, nausea, neuropathy – bring it on! But the fatigue – no way! Having been through now one treatment with another one around the corner, I have been both the rule and the exception. The rule – some fatigue and joint pain initially, definitive hair loss. The exception – no nausea or neuropathy, continuance of work, resumption of training. Yes, the fatigue set in for a few days, but nothing too great that would stop me from everyday activities. And the hair loss? Well, let’s just say GI Jane will be appearing over the next few days. I was fortunate to not experience the nausea and vomiting so often associated with chemo. Having lost weight post-surgery, I’ve been desperate to gain it back. While some need to take a leave of absence from work, I am grateful for the ability to still instruct and carry out many of my responsibilities. And last but not least, the continuance of strength training has provided purpose with just yesterday my doctor giving me her blessing to resume figure competition training. My body, mind and heart exploded with that news!
The Verdict? – I will NOT be part of the “rule” going forward. Every step of this continued journey I am choosing to be the “exception.”