During the first few weeks of my diagnosis, I think I was just living in shock. I never felt fear, because I couldn’t. I put my faith in God and knew that he was already in control. Just because I was not afraid, does not mean that I wasn’t angry. (I was born with the gift of an Irish temper.) The first oncologist I that I went to read my MRI, looked at my blood work, told me I had stage I cancer and I could begin treatment the next week. Stage 1 sounded less threatening, but my bigger concern was my fertility and he was just so matter-a-fact about it. You will lose your fertility and there’s nothing we can do. Kind of like asking me to just get over it. He wanted me to begin treatment and I wanted a more than five-minute conversation about my fertility.
At the recommendation of a friend of mine, I went to see my OBGYN. In her office with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer and the loss of my fertility on the line, we both cried. She did my annual exam, but recommended that I see a fertility specialist. In her words – just go see him to find out if you have options. Fertility or the loss of fertility is another post, but it was this specialist that recommended that I go to the Cleveland Clinic for a second opinion. I felt like going for another opinion was a little like betraying my doctor. He assured me that any good doctor is not offended by a second opinion, and if they are, then they are not the doctor for you. Faith – I never would have gone to my OBGYN, if my friend had not recommended it. I would never have made the decision to have a second opinion, if this doctor hadn’t suggested it.
Making all these appointments was postponing my treatment and making a lot of people around me nervous. Faith – I remember siting on my porch and thinking I had no idea who this adult was that I was becoming. Making life and death decisions without fear? Faith – is trusting in something with all your heart even when you cannot see it. I had put all my faith in God. Allowing me to concentrate on the challenges and decisions without fear.
At the Cleveland Clinic, I learned very quickly that an appointment with one doctor can often take hours, because they send you to other specialists and change their schedules to fit in other tests. There are thousands of people that go to major cancer centers like the Cleveland Clinic, but on that first visit, it was like I was the only patient there. I was sent to the top of the list for each and every appointment. It was during this – very long – day at the Cleveland Clinic that I learned that I had stage II with signs of stage III colorectal cancer. I was shocked, but not afraid.
The Cleveland Clinic is almost an hour and a half north of us. There were more big decisions to make and more waiting. I had to decide if I would be able to drive an hour and a half everyday for the first six weeks to receive treatment there. I had to decide if I was willing to let go of my fertility and begin treatment. The oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic assured me that this cancer took 7-10 years to develop, so waiting a few weeks to meet with more specialist and discuss the loss of my fertility would be fine. He wanted me to be comfortable with any decision that I made. I needed time and that’s what God gave me. Time to make decisions based on knowledge not on time constraints or the opinion of one person.