Quite frankly, cancer is just one big game of deception.
Deception is why it took so long for me to be diagnosed. Multiple doctors dismissed the signs and symptoms I did have for years before my diagnosis, because my age deceived them. People in their late 20s are not supposed to get kidney cancer. Had I been 67 instead of 27 and presenting with high blood pressure and abnormal blood work, it would have made a significant difference in my staging. According to the 15-40 Connection, an organization that works toward increasing awareness about AYA (adolescent and young adult) cancer:
“Improvements in cancer survival rates for 15 to 40-year-olds lag behind all other age groups, and have barely improved since 1975.
The good news is we know why. One of the main reasons that cancer survival rates for 15 to 40-years-olds haven’t improved is delayed diagnosis.”
Deception is why even my home health care team is amazed when they visit me. “YOU’RE the patient?!” is usually the response I get when I open the door for the first time. I don’t really LOOK sick, to be honest. In fact, overall I’m looking better than I have in a few years now. Cancer has done more for me than Weight Watchers ever did, although I don’t recommend going the cancer route. Even my skin has cleared up pretty well overall. My strength and endurance isn’t what it used to be, although that’s more from the major surgery I had to remove my kidney and some other fun stuff than it is my cancer. As long as you can’t see my scars from surgery, you probably just think I’m a yoga pant wearing mom who doesn’t care about fashion, rather than I am wearing comfortable clothes so it doesn’t restrict my healing stomach. Deception is why I get funny or ugly looks when I use my walker in public – she needs a walker, really?
Deception is why even when I sound super positive about this battle with cancer, the truth is it still sucks. Big time. I am mostly positive about my illness and I have been doing a lot of prayer and meditation to force the negative thoughts and feelings I have out of my head, but it doesn’t mean I’m always Cheery Cathy about it. My body has betrayed me in a huge way, and at an age when I least expected it. I think sometimes people forget it’s OK for cancer patients and their loved ones to admit that yes, cancer really sucks. No matter how nice your nurses, CNAs and doctors are, hospital stays and doctors appointments just aren’t very exciting or fun.
And deception is why no matter how good I feel or look, my oncologist told me last week, “Well, your cancer’s back,” despite the surgery I had that they hoped would eliminate the cancer. What he really meant was, it never went anywhere. Well, technically it did because it spread some, but it didn’t leave my body. I knew there was a good chance it wouldn’t completely eliminate the disease, but it didn’t make it any easier to hear. I was hoping for at least some “disease-free” time. Leave it to me to have the complicated, messy version of kidney cancer. My kidney cancer can’t even get it right.
So, it’s another bump in the road. Immunotherapy is all the rage for kidney cancer patients, so now we get to see how it works for me. I’m putting all my wishes into this not deceiving me too.