Every year I go on my annual trek to Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) to undergo a few assorted tests and visit with one of my Top Docs. As you may know, JHH is known for Top Docs across many specialities, mine happen to focus on “matters of the neck and thyroid”. This annual “date” with Top Doc is important, albeit nerve -wracking. I tend to use this time to reflect, write and educate – about Thyroid cancer and navigating the world as a cancer patient.
What I have learned to get me through the annual ritual “recheck” process? Well, for starters it is good to have a support team who will cheerlead you in to the appointments and then help (hopefully) celebrate afterwards (or pick you up if the news is not so good.). Pick your cheerleaders carefully. You don’t want those that are “armchair quarterbacks” or wanna be docs. You just want people who will bring you coffee and candy upon request.
What I also learned through this ridiculous process is to surround yourself with only positive people. There is no room for negativity when you are dealing with matters of importance – such as kicking cancer’s ass out the door. I prefer to do most of my appointments alone and then pace the corridors of JHH until given the “all clear” to go home. But, others may wish to have their “team” present and waiting. Just make sure they are all helpful vs. hinderers to your wellness.
And, when the Top Doc says you continue to be LWD – living with disease – albeit microscopically – you just shake your head and thank the good Lord that the news isn’t worse. In my case, LWD just means that you get to live a long life with some cancer varmints hanging out somewhere, but not being more than a microscopic pest. Kinda like knowing there is one bug in your house that survived a fumigation, but you just can’t seem to locate it.
Most importantly, when all the tests are done go and conduct retail therapy. In my case, I always purchase something totally weird from the hospital gift shop. This year a very odd looking sweatshirt with Johns Hopkins Hospital emblazoned on the front. I wore it proudly on the plane ride home.
To summarize my recommendations for post-cancer check-ups:
*Go where there is the best of the best. Your health deserves it.
*Bring positive friends and family (if you wish), celebrate good news, and surround yourself with those who will be helpful if the news isn’t so great.
*Eat chocolate and drink … whatever!
*Conduct retail therapy. Remember that tie-dye is never out of style if it makes you happy.
Wishing you all the very best of health,