Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beth Gainer Guest Post:Mind Games

A month ago I injured my foot while walking on uneven sidewalk.
Instead of seeing a doctor, I saw the pain get progressively worse.
People without prior or current health issues might be unfazed by such a minor injury and just go see the doctor.

Cancer survivors like me tend to panic.

I am so happy and lucky I survived breast cancer. However, my very
survival has come at a steep price: unlike the pre-cancer me, I can no
longer tune out every ache and pain that plague me. A body ache can
mean my cancer has returned or never left me in the first place.

That’s why my foot injury has me on shaky ground – even though I am a nine-year survivor. The statistics being in my favor do not comfort
me. When one is in pain and panicked, numbers simply don’t add up.

I really love my general physician, but from my perspective, it’s one
more doctor added to a list of follow-up doctors I have to see.

The first year after treatment was a difficult roller coaster of
emotions and fears. Since then I’ve kept my inner turmoil and mind
games at bay in spite of the normal aches and pains that assail my
body from time to time. For the cancer survivor, being years out of
treatment is not always reassuring.

This week, thanks to the tough-love support of my friends, I finally
picked up the phone and made an appointment with my general physician.

My appointment is tomorrow.

I am doing my best to stave off panic for at least another day.

This experience has reminded me that, while my physical fight against breast cancer is over for now, the mental fight perhaps never will be.

I am making strides toward overcoming my fears, one mental battle at a time.

My PhotoBeth L. Gainer has had numerous publications, including an essay in the anthology Voices of Breast Cancer. Her popular Calling the Shots blog at offers information and advice on how to navigate the medical system. She is a contributing member of Medpedia and Navigating Cancer.

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