My new mantra is What is a non-cancer reason for this? I am actively trying to reprogram my lizard brain. Whenever I have a new symptom, or something doesn’t go as expected, I worry. I start to go down that path of OMG this is disease progression. But in order to stay sane, I’m trying to actively reprogram my brain. When it starts to go down that thought path of OMG this is disease progression, I actively ask the alternative question What is a non-cancer reason for this symptom? I try to refocus my mind on the non-cancer reasons for the symptom. In many cases, this actually works … but not always. Sometimes I just go down that path and get myself all worked up about it …
This week was one of those times. Sunday night I had a bit of fever. I woke up Monday morning to what felt like your garden variety bladder infection. I called and made an appointment with my primary care doctor (actually I saw someone else because she was out). I did the standard pee in a cup, and was diagnosed with a UTI (Urinary Tracked Infection). I was given antibiotics and sent on my way. No big deal.
24-hours later, I get an email with test results. The doctor sense a cryptic message about how the results do not indicate a garden variety UTI, but to keep taking the antibiotics while we wait for the next round of tests to come back. The cultures will take another 24-hours or so. The message is vague enough that I start to worry. I foolishly look at Dr. Google. What does this mean? Any number of really bad things. I find myself searching for the answer to What is a non-cancer reason for this symptom? But I nothing pops up. Everything that I see looks really bad. I stop looking. I try not to worry, but part of me starts going down that path … OMG I have liver mets! (no I don’t, but that is what I was telling myself).
I’m happy to report that it is nothing – well not nothing – it is ecoli – but that is really nothing. It is NOT CANCER … I had a perfectly treatable non-cancer reason for that symptom. And so, one thing my doctors could have done to help me was to provide me with non-cancer reasons for this system. Next time, I’ll try to be more explicit in my inquires. I’ll ask directly them directly – what might be a non-cancer reason for this? So that I can focus on that. Because really, before cancer I never would have thought that every symptom I have would be cancer, so why should I focus on that now?