There are many kinds of “stages” in cancer world.

When the doctors “stage” your disease, they measure their findings, look at a lot of variables: where the disease is located, was there spread, is a vital organ involved or maybe how aggressive this particular type of cancer can be….that’s one way of ‘staging’ cancer.

What they don’t tell you and what is a very real issue in cancer world is the “stages of worry” that accompany the diagnosis of the disease. 

Hearing the words, “You have cancer” brings with it a kind of ‘panic-worry.’  A person is completely knocked off their feet hearing those words and the immediate thoughts of suffering or dying of cancer brings on a high level of worry.  It eventually eases a little, when you learn more about your future and treatment options, but the worry never really goes away…it just goes to a different “stage.”

So you’ve had surgery now, or chemo or radiation.  With the treatment comes the hope that the disease will die a terrible death and the patient will live a long life, never having to “worry” about cancer again. 

It’s just not that easy.

Once the cancer cells have been found, the “worry” never goes away.  Take my friend who had surgery today.  The doctors say all went well: the lymph nodes look clear.  It was the best news of the day and her “stage of worry” probably went down tremendously.  She’ll learn what stage of cancer she has once the pathology report is complete. 

But there won’t be a pathology report on her “stage of worry.”  She’s stepped into a place now, where hopefully she can stop thinking about what happened to her today, pick-up her life and never look back.  That’s what I wish for her more than anything else in the world.

But I know…there will always be that thought: “Will it come back?”  It’s a “stage of worry” that is a constant when you’ve entered the world of cancer.

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