ducky doolittle || seeking joy + wellness while surviving cancer

Tag: diagnosis

Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 6

Waiting For Cancer Treatment / Part 6

Surgery happens this Friday. Now there is a low hum of nervousness that constantly resonates out of my chest. It started yesterday and is so real that I can damn near touch it and see it. I wish I could make it stop. The thing that I have been […]

Uterine Cancer: Signs To Look For

Uterine Cancer: Signs To Look For

Uterine cancer is also called endometrial or womb cancer. People don’t talk about it enough… perhaps because it mostly happens to older women? Perhaps because women are not sharing their grief with this diagnosis? But uterine cancer can also happen to younger, body positive, fearless women like me. […]

Notes To Myself: How Not to Fuck Up My Body’s Healing Process

Notes To Myself: How Not to Fuck Up My Body’s Healing Process

I am a dumb workaholic who tries to do too much every day, hence this note to my future self. I’ll add to this and refer to this to try to keep myself from being an uncontrollable nut after I have my surgery. Wish me luck!

WEEK 1-2

  • Rest
  • Rest some more
  • Accept help
  • Drink water
  • Don’t lift anything heavier than ten pounds
  • Don’t open heavy doors
  • Take pain meds on scheduled (I hate medication.)
  • Write it down when you take pain meds so you know what the fuck you are doing
  • Don’t shower alone in case you need help getting in or out of the shower
  • Shower, wash insition with antimicrobial soap and pat dry insition. No baths. (Damn. I love baths.)
  • Call doctor if pain gets much worse, fever over 101 for 24 hours, nausea, difficulty breathing, unusual bleeding, and/or leg pain

WEEK 3-4

  • I’m probably feeling better, but don’t rush things
  • Life will wait, rest if I am tired
  • Accept help
  • Don’t lift anything heavier than ten pounds
  • If tummy hurts or is swollen, I am overdoing it
  • Go slow, watch movies, do art, sit still, nap, read, internet
  • Engage with your post-menopause wellness plan
  • Walk but not too far from home
  • Don’t go in to the office
  • I can make a simple dinner or fold laundry, but no vacuuming or gardening

WEEK 5-6

  • Keep listening to your body
  • Be sure to actively work your post-menopause wellness plan
  • Doctor should schedule an appointment around week six
  • Ask her about working out and sex
  • Ask for copies of pathology and surgical records

 

 

Waiting for Treatment / Part 3

Waiting for Treatment / Part 3

Yesterday I completed all the pre-surgical appointments. As soon as we got in the car I called the desk where they are to schedule my surgery. Got the voice mail. Again. Fuck. They may be hating me over there, but I am over it. I […]

What To Do While Waiting for Cancer Treatment

What To Do While Waiting for Cancer Treatment

Last week I publicly shared my cancer diagnosis. That was scary as fuck. Since then my husband and I went to a follow-up appointment with my first surgeon. He set us up with the next surgeon. She is supposed to be good, uses robotics and is as […]

The Importance of Self Care

The Importance of Self Care

Photo of Ducky by JoI can’t tell you much about Jo. She was a Holocaust survivor, having been freed from Auschwitz concentration camp in her early teens. She couch-surfed through Europe, hopped a boat to America, and eventually landed with her extended family in New Jersey. When I met her she was in her 80s. She was retired and had developed a passion for photography. She wanted to take my picture. I let her.

We developed a friendship. We would talk about art, drink tea, and find good food together. Every once in a while I would see a little bit of her pain as a survivor. Having come from a rough place myself, I appreciated it when she would be vulnerable enough to allow me to see it.

One day I arrived at her house to find she was wearing her camera strap with her wrist tucked in, like a sling. I asked her why.

She explained that she was suffering from a shoulder injury.

I asked her if she had seen a doctor.

She had.

She explained that they wanted to do surgery but she was not going to do it. She did not want to spend the estimated 5 days in the hospital.

I totally understood. When you have experienced institutional trauma as she had, being confined and not having control of your moments and days can be unbearable. It’s panic-inducing.

By this point in my life, I had been trained as a patient advocate. I had been spending days and nights in the emergency room with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. It was my job to sit with a patient, help them understand their medical and legal rights. It was my job to give back some of the power that had stripped away from them by trauma.

In an effort to encourage Jo to care for herself I offered to go with her to the hospital. I offered to sit with her, by her bed, 24 hours a day, for all the days she may need to stay. She declined my offer.

I respected that her body belonged to her. I reinforced that fact that if she ever changed her mind, I would be there. I was ready to care for her.

When I left Jo’s home that day I had this overwhelming sense that if I could not care for this survivor, then perhaps I should learn from her. I made a promise to myself that if ever I was in need of medical care I would not allow my past trauma and pain inhibit me from seeking that care and submitting to the treatment that would give me the highest quality of life. As a form of revenge against the world and all the pain it has caused Jo, I would work to only take better care of my body.

Today I give thanks to Jo. She taught me how to be stronger and how to take better care of myself. When my body began to bleed and bruise it was my memories of Jo that made it possible for me to push past the tears and fear and achieve my cancer diagnosis. I will draw on this strength as I move through treatment.

(Photo by Jo.)