At the beginning and throughout different phases of my cancer battle journey, I had to get multiple types of testing done. I had blood test, x-rays, CT scans, MRI, PET scan, camera and biopsies to name a few. When I first became ill with flu-like symptoms, the tests results were not showing any signs of cancer. Then after what seemed like thousands of tests taken, various medical history inquiries that included everything but the kitchen sink, suddenly the tests results reflected cancer. Right away the doctors inserted a camera down my throat to check what they thought to be “liquid” which actually turned out to be a giant tumor on the left side of my body over the left lung and heart. Once they saw the tumor, they did a bone marrow test. The test results of bone marrow came back normal however, the oncologist determined that it was a type of lymphoma. Unfortunately, he was not an expert on this type of cancer therefore, he wanted me to go out of town to a hospital that specialized in this type of lymphoma for more testing and appropriate diagnosis. It took some time before a bed was available to be able to transfer me to one of the several specialty hospitals out of town. At first, I did not know that the word lymphoma meant cancer, thankfully, my mom was familiar with the term and she passed on the information to me. Now it made sense why an oncologist was talking to me and not a general doctor. I felt like the world was turned upside down not knowing what was happening or what was going to happen next. One of the worst parts about everything that was happening to me was that I had to wait. They say that patience is a virtue well it sure was not one of mine at this time. I felt an array of emotions from fear, and anxiety to frustration and anger because I felt like I was dying and nobody was doing anything about it. Well, at least, this is how it felt at the time because I would not get an update on being transferred to an out-of-town hospital for further testing and diagnosis. To make matters worse, I was unable to travel unless I had an ambulance transporting me with emergency medical assistance because I was on oxygen and extremely sick (literally dying). Finally, after what seemed like forever, I received notice that regretfully the first-choice specialty hospital did not have a bed available until three months’ time however due the severe critical medical condition I was in, they were able to find another specialty hospital that had just had a bed become available. They also informed me that they were doing all the necessary procedures to transfer me to this specialty hospital right away. I am extremely grateful to God that another hospital with expertise in lymphomas became available because if that had not happened and I had to wait three months for the other hospital and I would have died waiting to be transferred. What I learned is that each type of cancer is different and not every oncologist is an expert in all types of cancers. Thank God my initial/main oncologist acknowledged that and worked hard on getting me the most expert medical care available at that time for my type of cancer.
Interesting enough, my dad is now going through a similar situation, minus the critical emergency life threating level status. Of course, there are other differences my cancerous tumor was huge and inoperable. My dad already had an initial operation which led to him being in a good stable condition. Also, his oncologist told him he might need a second operation and light chemo which will be determined after more testing. His oncologist decided that it was best that he went out of town and got him an appointment with another oncologist who is ordering the additional tests he deems necessary to determine the exact type of cancer and treatment plan. He was just advised that he has an appointment with this out-of-town oncologist. Prior to being informed about the upcoming appointment, he was getting a little anxious. I try to help him relax and told him of my story since he had not been able to be there throughout all my cancer journey. I told him that it was best to stay on top of it and make sure to get his appointment, but to also find a distraction so he will not get overwhelmed by what I call the “Waiting Game”. It is difficult to be in this period, but then again, I learned through my cancer journey that this is a reality throughout the entire journey. I always had to wait on test results to be able to get the next chemo treatment, determine if I still had cancer, and find out if I was cancer-free. Cancer helped me develop patience because although I am a very patient person in some things, I can be very inpatient in other areas.