Reality Check

Lauren is 65 years young, a beautiful woman with soft medium length curls and a keen wit and intelligence.

Recently, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and prescribed a radiation treatment. A few days after it was complete, she noticed a large bruise forming exactly where the radiation was administered. Growing concerned, she called her oncologist’s office and was told by the woman answering the phone that it was unrelated to the radiation, that this was not a side effect. When she was recounting this to her group of friends, the cancer survivors in the group were appalled. What?!  How could it be unrelated when it had never before occurred and was happening right at the site of recent radiation?

All of us could relate and perhaps you can too. At the end of chemo, I was told by an oncologist, substituting for my regular doctor, that the falling away of my fingernails and toenails was unrelated to the chemo. She said it was probably a skin condition. Later, I heard from countless people that this was a normal and expected side effect of chemo.

Mistakes happen. There may be times that professionals, as well as friends and family, are unknowingly misattuned to what you are experiencing, both physically or emotionally.

But what’s most important is that you do not accept the dismissal. You should not dismiss your own concerns, your needs, your questions, your feelings, and you shouldn’t stop until you get a clear answer and understanding.

You know your body better than anyone and your intuition is important. Being dismissed out of hand is what others might do to you, but what you should never be content to do to yourself.

It’s one of the first principles I’m writing about for my upcoming online course Healing Well: Reconnecting with Your Life After Cancer.

Be unafraid to see reality and work with others to see it too.



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