Second opinions are vital

For the third time in my life, through the regular West Kootenay medical channels, I was diagnosed with cancer.

For the third time in my life, through the regular West Kootenay medical channels, I was diagnosed with cancer.

Chemo was strongly advised and two different kinds of chemo were offered.  Because I felt healthy and strong, not at all exhausted like I had with my previous bouts of cancer, because all my blood tests showed my body wasn’t fighting anything, and because my naturopath, Dr. Brenda Gill, who read copies of all the various medical reports said to me, “nothing is conclusive in these reports,” I declined the chemo.

Further CT scans over the course of a year showed slow growth of the lump.  More pressure was applied by various Nelson medical people for me to have chemo, including an offer to go to Calgary to have a sizable chunk cut out of my body and in conjunction with this, to have various kinds of chemo applied, all of which sounded horrendous and terrifying. Dr. Gill still said the information was inconclusive.

Next came a suggestion I look into palliative care for myself, followed by a string suggestion that I have palliative surgery, with the understanding that I would have at most a year to live.

I would have two and a half years left with the chemo regime. Being more interested in a good life rather than a longer life of suffering, with my continued good health and good blood tests, with skiing still in full swing, I continued to decline.

I cashed in some of my RRSPs, considered euthanizing my old dog since I didn’t want her to outlive me, looked into putting my house up for sale this spring, and gave away carloads of belongings. I canceled my trip to Holland for my mother’s 91st birthday and a family reunion.

Finally an appointment with a specialist in Kelowna for a second opinion was arranged. This urgent visit took more than four months to arrange while my emotional rollercoaster ride continued.

The Kelowna specialist apologized for anyone ever having used the word palliative. The lump was surgically removed.

The pathology report shows that the lump was benign and no signs of cancer were found anywhere. It was simply a lump I would have died with rather than died from.

Always get a second opinion and look for alternatives before making life-changing decisions.

Having written this, I can now continue with my life which may very well be a long and healthy one.

Ann Alma

Nelson

 

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