It was Friday afternoon, almost night time. I received a phone call from my surgeon. During this call, he confirmed the result of the biopsy. His diagnosis was “Non-differentiated Breast Cancer.”
It was Friday afternoon, almost night time. I had to wait two really long, almost never ending days to talk to whoever was going to be my oncologist.
I had millions of questions. I didn’t want the phone call to end for anything in the world. Yet, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
I told the doctor. “Tell me, what do I do in the meantime? I will see the oncologist until Monday!” His answer was one of the most valuable I have ever received. “Aidee, go and buy a notebook.”
A notebook? I listened to his advice. I went and bought it. I’ve always been kind of a nerd myself. It was a new, special notebook that fitted perfectly in my purse. I could have it on my night stand, next to my bed. It was my companion wherever I went.
My surgeon said: “From now on, during this journey of healing cancer, you will have many questions and will receive much information. You will meet 5 to 6 doctors with different specialties. They will care for you for some time. It can be overwhelming. You better have somewhere to write.”
Surgeon. Oncologist. Radiologist. OB-Gyn. Plastic Surgeon. Nutritionist. Therapist. Physiotherapist. Many, many nurses (that are almost all-powerful in the clinics). All these, not counting alternative doctors and therapist that I also consulted.
What a great advice! Too much technical and informal information. Too many names of people, medicines, procedures. Questions and doubts came in the middle of the night, before going to an appointment or right after the end of one, while talking to my friends, praying at church, reading a book. All the time, my notebook helped me to organize my head a little, since in moments of so much tension, I didn’t have many resources to think in an orderly manner. My brain was also in shock!
A notebook, something so simple, was an extraordinary tool to start the road of healing and gave me back some sanity. A notebook helped me make better decisions, based on great amounts of information I was receiving.
Then, when I arrived at my appointments, my doctors were nervous! One day, I read the report my oncologist had done in one of my visits. It was funny to me to see that he had spent 15 minutes doing the check up and 45 minutes answering my well sustained questions.
Alternative resources to “the notebook” could be an electronic version: your iPad, iPhone, etc. It also helps to bring a relative or friend with you to the doctor’s visits. Whatever you can’t digest or understand, the other person can grasp and help you assimilate.
A notebook! I still have it. I don’t use it anymore. My brain once again has the ability to think clearly and orderly. I stopped visiting that many doctors with so much frequency. I also stopped waking in the middle fo the night with questions and hypothesis.