Friday, October 10, 2008

Attitude is Everything

Attitude is almost everything, in all areas of life! I hear this from doctors, lab technicians, even the check-in people at the front desk. I know that I have a good attitude, I just didn't know it was unusual. I keep asking, "Am I sicker than I realize? Should I be upset?" "No, your attitude is great! That's what keeps you going," is always the answer. I guess I have what comes across as a positive attitude because I actually have what some would consider a pessimistic attitude!
I'm sorry to burst some people's bubble, but everyone is going to "get" something. Whether it's cancer, congestive heart failure, HIV, lupus, ALS, or anything else, you're going to have to deal with a long-term health condition at some point, either your own or that of a close family member. And "Deal With It" is what I mean! Suck it up! Play the hand life gives you! Get the job done, and do it right! This is the way I was raised, not in a military or harsh way, just that whining or shutting down serve no purpose. It's also why my sister and I are good in a crisis such as a car accident, or sudden death of a friend/family member. We figure out what has to be done and take care of it, whether it's calling 911, organizing a wake, or pulling together photos for a memory board.

I go to the hospital for weekly check-ins with my oncologist. (Isn't he a cutie?! He's very nice, but very strict!) Because Dana-Farber is so huge, the waiting room I go to takes up about a quarter of the first floor, and there are all sorts of people here: rich, poor, young, old, celebrities, immigrants, people who have come to Boston from around the world just for treatments at this hospital. Some come with a family member or friend, others have what I call a full entourage, and there are a few people like me, who usually come in alone. The people who come in alone usually have a book or magazine, a drink & snack, and know right what to do: check in & get your bracelet, go to phlebotomy and get your blood drawn, wait to be called when your exam room is ready. Patients with a large entourage are usually newly diagnosed or having what I call a BIG appointment, going over tests, something like that.
The people with 1 person are usually either in a wheel chair, so they need physical assistance; or don't do anything for themselves, even if they are able. These are the patients that seem to be the opposite of me.
The friend does the check-in, tells them where to go, carries all the bags, etc., even if this is a regular patient who should know all this. These are often, but not always, the whiners. They feel sorry for themselves because they are sick. They are waiting for the doctors to "make" them better, and their family needs to do everything until they are better. They don't see themselves as living with cancer, rather as being sick. The family members usually look anxious, are constantly trying to please and getting snapped at, and in general look worn out. What is the purpose of making your caregiver sick and miserable? Are they better able to help the patient? Of course not, it just makes the patient feel in control of something.

Well, get in control of your own treatment, darn it! Do your own desk check-in, clean up your own vomit, when needed, do anything for yourself for which you are physically able! At some point you will actually need another person to do these things and you'll have worn them out or chased them away.
For patients having trouble staying positive there are support groups as well as individual counseling that many insurance plans will cover. For caregivers there are also support networks and assistance groups that can fill in to take patients to appointments, give the caregiver some personal time, run errands, etc. Personally, I pay people to do the regular things I am unable to do, such as cleaning, household maintenance, laundry, and grocery shopping, so that I am not wearing out my family and friends. I am fortunate that I am able to afford to do this. Then I can ask for help from family and friends on other things that come up.

That's really all I have to say on the topic of attitude. Now here's our week's wrap-up!

Myspace Happiness Graphics Quotes

This is the last of the posts for my Bone Marrow Birthday Giveaway. I hope you've learned a little something this week, and become more aware of the ease of becoming a bone marrow donor. I really believe that the more people talk about cancer, or any other scary, potentially fatal disease, the more informed we become and the more comfortable we are with facing it ourselves. De-bunking the myths and knowing about current methods of detection and treatment are also important.
The Top Three Things I hope you learned from reading my personal stories are:
1) Do self-exams! Not just the monthly breast exam, but all of your body. When you are in the shower press along any soft tissue, thighs, neck, groin. This way you'll know your body and notice changes.
2) Don't be a dumb @$$ like me and wait to go to the doctor! I waited 6 months after first finding a lump in my neck, just because I didn't want to be told it was a big hunk of fat and I needed to lose weight.
3) Registering to become a bone marrow donor is a quick and easy procedure. Just a cheek swab!
NOW for the GIVEAWAY question of the day... You MUST answer the question in the Comments for THIS POST to be eligible. You also must have a way for me to contact you when you win. You do not have to have a blog to enter, and you can be from anywhere in the world!
What is the name of my oncologist?


Nathalie Brault said...

Weee I'm first not that it makes me win or anything but I kinda like it. the name of your oncologist id John Koreth MD Thansk for that great week, I sure did learn a lot. You take care of yourself I even subscrbed to your post and please come visit my blog too. Hugs and kisses

mannequin said...

Good afternoon Elizabeth!
This was a wonderful post to wrap up your week long series. You certainly have a knack for writing.
The answer to today's question is ...

John Koreth
and yes, he is a cutie and he looks like a caring, dedicated doctor.

I can't thank you enough Elizabeth. Not only have I met someone whom I hope to become better acquainted with, I've also learned much this past week.
I'm going to look into the Registry Program; I appreciate your links.

carma said...

His name is John Koreth, MD.

Bridget said...

Dr, John Koreth is today's answer.

Bridget said...

I've enjoyed your posts this week and the challenge of answering the questions.
I've learned a lot so thank you very much!
Again, Happy Birthday!!!!!
Hugs, Bridget

Nancy said...

Hi Elizabeth. Your oncologist's name is Dr. John Koreth. I have learned alot this week and I love your attitude. Alot of what you have said has hit home with me in regards to my attitude and how I was treated as a caregiver by a close family member. Thanks for your blog-it really helps!

American in Norway said...

WOW...I need to go back & read your story... you sound like a very brave woman witha GREAT attitude.. . Hang in there... going to read some more!

Justine said...

John Koreth (that cutie) is your oncologist. And yes, I think I've learned quite a bit through this week's posts. You've done a fantastic job, Elizabeth and you really are an inspiration. When you were describing the people that had others doing everything for them? It struck a cord with me, because I can too easily see myself like that.

Justine :o )

Candace said...

Tricky one!! Your oncologist's name is John Koreth, MD, PhD.

I've really enjoyed your posts this week and have learned a lot. Thank you.

Kathy said...

Hi, I've learned a lot this week by reading your blog. Thanks for the educational posts on becoming a bone marrow donor and all the other posts on attitude, side-effects, etc. Your oncologist is named Dr. John Koreth.
Have a great weekend. I hope to hear from you telling me I'm a winner. :)
bigfamily8 (at) yahoo (dot) com

mimi said...

not really sure but maybe dr john koreth is your oncologist... can't find any other info and it's better than nothing..

thanks for a great giveaway and good health to you in the future

hugs and prayers

princessesindisguise said...

Your oncologist's name is John Koreth!


Lady Dorothy said...

I like how you used the term, "LIVING with cancer." Well said.

Thank you for coming by my place yesterday on our BATW tour! Hope to see you again!

lindanuts said...

you don't actually name him/her. your references are to my 'doctor', the GP, my 'oncologist'--isn't 'he' cute?

Patty said...

Your oncologist is John Koreth. Thanks for this week's posts, Elizabeth! I truly hope that at least one reader has decided to become a bone marrow donor. I've learned that I'm not eligible to be a bone marrow donor thanks to my diabetes, but I think I can donate blood for now, and my organs later on.

Life on Bonnie Lane said...

Aha! I looked all over your blog for the answer, then finally got the idea to click on his pic!

Your doctor's name is *drumroll here* :

John Koreth, MD, PhD

Yay! I figured it out!


~Tara said...

John Koreth MD

Virginia said...

Your oncologists name is John Koreth, MD, PhD.

Ma'dame French said...

I LOVE your attitude!!! and I believe it to be soo true! Deal with it and move on~~~as my favorite movie quote says~~~get busy livin' or get busy dyin'~~enough said;) French

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

You are soooooooooooooooo right about attitude. I know my attitude is what has kept me alive and continuing to get healthy despite the death sentence they had once given me.

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