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Uncertainty and Cancer

Updated on January 12, 2010

Recent Cancer Diagnosis

When a doctor tells you that you have cancer, no matter what type of cancer it is, your world blurs and your focus stays with that one word. Cancer. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in September of 2009 and I didn't know what it meant. No one can tell you what it means for you to be diagnosed with something that will never, not really, ever go away. Thyroid cancer is highly treatable, but you must be monitored for the rest of your life. With all of this comes the worst part in any disease. Uncertainty.

Uncertainty does not have to be the worst part and at times I'm sure the physical distress from cancer treatment and mental distress is much worse. Yet, it all comes back to that subtle feeling of uncertainty. How does someone become friends with uncertainty?

I've only just begun to learn to accept it. I think that has to be the first step. After feeling like everything was going to be just fine and that this whole thing was just a blip in my normal healthy life in my early 30's, I was brought back to reality. My reality is testing, blood work, monitoring, and taking a synthetic hormone pill for the rest of my life. All of these things are manageable. Some people do not get this luxury.

Another step in the process of learning to be OK with uncertainty is to get rid of expectations. I fell flat on my face when I expected one of my scans to come back perfectly normal. When I had some abnormal activity in my lung, I freaked. I had expectations that were never going to be met, no matter what I did. It turns out with further testing, that spot they saw in my lung is inconclusive. Ha! What a way to throw that uncertainty back in my face, right? My point is, it keeps coming back into my life and it is forcing me to deal with it. I will continue to deal with it for the rest of my life and so will all cancer patients.

My only recourse is to embrace uncertainty, pushing it away won't keep it from coming back.


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