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"JUST" - A Word That Hurts

Posted by marie@4wordsfoundation.org on April 16, 2017 at 5:40 AM

A couple of months ago I had an appointment with my Oncologist whom I currently see every 4-6 months.  These appointments are normally informative and collaborative in my healthcare.  During this particular visit I wanted to discuss an issue regarding some symptoms I have been experiencing for the past few months.  The physician listened as I explained the symptoms, the tests I had already had, their findings, etc.  After examining me stated, "I don't think it is anything to worry about, you "JUST" had DCIS."


I have heard that word from the Oncologist before but this particular visit that one word hit a nerve.   If I "JUST" had DCIS then why did I have surgery, lose 15% of my breast, spend 6.5 weeks going to daily radiation therapy, and currently take a prescription to prevent recurrence?  I left the office that day feeling very insignificant.  In fact it has bothered me so much that is why I have written this blog.  Writing is very  cathartic for me.  


DCIS (Ductual Carcinoma In Situ) is Stage 0, and has a >95% cure rate when diagnosed and treated early.   I am very fortunate to have caught and treated my cancer very early and my prognosis is excellent, however many others are not as fortunate.  To any cancer patient or their family, regardless of the type of cancer diagnosis, it is not "JUST" cancer.   


For the most part as survivors or current patients, we are able to go on with our lives; however their are times that the thought of cancer might continually enter our mind.  For me, it is just before each doctor visit or diagnostic test.  It usually comes to the forefront a few days before each appointment.  For others it's everyday.  Everyone deals with their diagnosis, treatment, feelings and survivorship differently.  There is no right or wrong way.  We are entitled to our feelings and concerns and to have them diminished by the word "JUST" is incomprehensible to me.  My feelings or those of any cancer patient are not "JUST".


A cancer diagnosis, its treatment, and survivorship are life long reminders to us; that we are human, we have feelings/emotions, we are not invincible, that it will always be on minds and that each of our particular cancer diagnosis are not "JUST".


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