Another Sort of Election Day
Glorious-ness, Pure and Simple

Just Live Your Life

So.  This week was to be a Momentous Week for me.

But it didn't quite turn out that way.

You see, on Tuesday I was scheduled for my once-a-year check up appointment with my oncologist.  It would mark my ten-year-cancer-free-anniversary, and top on our agenda to discuss . . . was whether I really needed to continue coming in for my annual check-ups.

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These appointments always fill me with a little dread.  (Because cancer is creepy, y'know?)  But I also was really looking forward to this appointment.  (Because graduation!)  I also just really adore my oncologist!  She is laser-focused and super smart, compassionate while being totally no-nonsense, pragmatic -- and funny when you need humor most.  I was looking forward to celebrating with her, sharing a high-five, and thanking her for, well . . . saving my life.

A few years ago, my oncologist had her own brush with cancer when her husband become ill and died (just after my mom).  She drastically cut her patient load and moved her office closer to her home when he first got sick -- about a 45-minute drive from Kalamazoo.  She allowed me to continue on as her patient, because I was on the once-a-year schedule by then, and it made sense . . . if I was willing to make the drive.  (I was.)

On Monday, I got what I thought was going to be a reminder message from her office about my appointment the next day.  Only . . . it wasn't. Not really.  The message said, "When you come in for your appointment tomorrow, you won't be seeing Dr. L; you'll be seeing another oncologist from the Kalamazoo office."

HUH?

I called right back to reschedule.  But.  It turns out that my doctor had . . . retired at the end of June!  Just like that.  With no fanfare or communication or letter or anything. *

It was shocking to me.  Very distressing.  Suddenly, I had no oncologist!

I canceled my appointment.  (Because, really, who needs to drive an hour and a half to see a randomly-assigned oncologist who normally practices a couple of miles from my home?  And . . . who doesn't know me at all.)

And I've set up an appointment with my rather fabulous internist in a couple of weeks.  He'll go over my most recent blood work (which is reassuringly normal and very consistent with every other lab workup I've had in the last 9 years!) and help me decide how (and whether) to monitor things going forward.  

So. . . it's all good.

But also a bit discombobulating.  Because I was so looking forward to this appointment . . . as closure . . . for a very disturbing time in my life.  This should have been a celebratory week for me.  And, well.  It just doesn't quite feel celebratory yet.

I'm trying to just move forward.  And I will.

I remember how lost I felt . . . back when I finished my chemo treatments and felt so raw and exposed and vulnerable.  I asked my oncologist, "So, now what do I do?"  She smiled at me and said, "You get out there and you just live your life!"

I think that's what she would have told me to do - again - on Tuesday.  So . . . that's just what I'm going to do!

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* I knew she was planning to retire soon.  I just didn't expect it before I had a chance to see her again.

Comments

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Carole

Oh, Kym. I know how much you value this doctor and I'm sorry you didn't get the closure you wanted. It's weird when a doctor just up and retires, isn't it? I had it happen and, even though I am personal friends with my doctor and his wife and family it still feels very weird to go to a different doctor now - and I didn't have the sort of treatment and experience that you did, just regular check ups and stuff. I think we all should celebrate LIFE every day and, honestly, I don't know of anyone who does that more than you. Live it up, girlfriend! XOXO

Vera

Oh how I wish you could have seen her the one last time. On the flip side, maybe she decided to just get out there and live and enjoy her life which is fabulous. But...I still wish you could have had closure. Glad you like your internist...celebrate with him (and how wonderful to know your bloodwork is similar to what it has been for 9 years). Congratulations! I'll raise a glass of champagne to you!

Shirley

I absolutely understand what you feel. I am scheduled to see my oncologist in November for my five years-free (and final) appointment. She retires in December and I would feel just like you do if I didn’t get that last appointment with her.
Congratulations on 10 years cancer-free!

Patty

Oh Kym! I completely understand how disappointed you must feel. But knowing you I know you will make the best of this and LIVE IT UP. Here's to 2049 my friend!

Bonny

It's a bit tempting to think that this lack of closure and celebrating with Dr. L minimizes or lessens your graduation somehow, but that is not, should not be the case. I understand how disappointing and distressing this is, but hopefully after some time and your visit with your internist you'll be able to feel celebratory and go forward living your life. Could you write Dr. L a letter or email to have some sort of closure and a virtual high-five? I am going to be celebrating you, your graduation from a terribly disturbing time in your life, and someone who lives their life wonderfully by raising a glass of the best beer I can find in Fort Collins. XO

kim in oregon

I can totally see how that would throw you off. I'm so happy you had her for most of the time you needed her and here's hoping that maybe this was a sign that you are totally and completely done!

Kat

This post brought a tear to my eye, I feel your angst in the words you wrote.

I am sending you love and some virtual hugs and yes... do exactly what she told you all those years ago... go out there and celebrate your amazing and spectacular life! I will raise a glass to you as well, my friend!

XO

Jane

Oh man, the retirement must feel like a bit of a blow. Life throws us some interesting curves. I am sorry. Your plan to see your internist is a good one. Here is to you - one fabulous woman. I love the advice to go out there and live your life. Good words for all of us. Hope all continues to be well.

Chloe

Over the years I have had two wonderful doctors retire and one die too early in her forties, and just when I needed her the most (not for anything life-threatening, but still...). She was considered the gold standard in her specialty and I had just discovered her. I still feel her loss as do most of her patients. When you feel deprived, maybe it would help to think cosmically. We are all human, even doctors, and you were so lucky to have actually had her for almost ten years. And you can still celebrate with Tom and a glass of wine even though it was not the closure you were expecting.

Mary

Oh Kym, I'm sorry you missed that opportunity ... ten years is a Big Deal to celebrate! I'll be raising a glass to you this evening and wishing you many more ten year anniversaries! Hugs, my friend!

Annette

The above responders all echo my same feelings to you. That let down is a real thing, a real sensation, a physical reaction - one can only let it be there, and I suspect it will eventually slide to the back of the memory with the reason it first came about.
I also suspect we all have had an experience like that and so we learn from yours and others explanations and go on - strong, like you!

Honore Francois

Life is bitter/ sweet and filled with surprises. You ARE resillient and tho’ a tad still in shock, I think you’ve moved on. Thank you for sharing not only your story but also, your strength.

Cheers to You!

Vicki

Oh, I wish you'd have been able to visit with her once more... and I sure hope that she is out there just living her life because that's what she chose to do!! I can't imagine how helpless she must have felt, as an oncologist, when her husband became ill and died... devastating.

Still, a letter... a little heads-up... would have been nice after all these years. It's not like she was your dog groomer...

Go, everybody! Go live your life!!

Debbie

I'm so sorry you weren't able to see your oncologist one last time, but take her advice, go out there and live and savor each moment..in fact, I think we all need to be reminded to do that every day! Maybe writing her a letter to express what you wanted to share with her would bring both of you some closure and comfort. Carpe diem!

Cheryl S.

I'm sorry you didn't get your closure, but so happy for your 10-year anniversary!

margene

Ten years, Kym. TEN! That is so amazingly awesome and you have spent that 10 years living to the fullest, filling your life year by year with all that you find positive, beautiful, and fulfilling. You've found balance and focus and been surprised and delighted by what life has to offer. My friend Margo said "Life is fun!" and you have made it as good as it can get by finding the joy of every day living. Your doctor felt she had to live her life and, I think, as you said, she is saying the same to you. You don't need her okay. You have your own. Go out there and life your life just as you have been.

Kathy

These things are be so hard.

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