Once you have cancer………..everything might. be. cancer. It’s just something I’ve noticed recently. Before cancer, nothing was cancer. I never had a fear of ever having cancer. I’ll never get cancer. I don’t live near Chernobyl and there’s no cancer in my family….why would I get cancer?
A stomach ache? uh oh….I wonder if it’s cancer…..
A chronic cough? hmmm…..cancer?
It’s always the first thing to pop in my head. I went for an ultrasound last week to monitor a cyst in my ovaries.
Here’s what happened: The tech is looking at my right ovary and not saying much, then she moves to my left ovary and then tells me it’s not there. It’s hidden. Then she says she has to go and talk to the radiologist to see if he wants to order another scan. Then she returns and says she didn’t want me to think she lied to me but…..she DID see my left ovary. But it was higher than normal and had a 2cm mass in it and she wanted to talk to the doctor to see what he wanted her to do. Um, what? I don’t know why I don’t get fearful at moments like this but weirdly enough I kind of giggled. She must have thought I was partly insane. I giggled because I thought it was really cute how she was worried that I’d read the report and think she lied to me. I told her it was okay because it was a white lie. Maybe she was concerned because I gave her my usual spiel while she was doing the ultrasound:
So what do you see? Did the cyst grow? What are the measurements? You can tell me. I’m dying right? Ha…..just kidding…..just wanted to see if you blinked. And YOU DID! You blinked! I knew it! Anything? I won’t let the doctor know…that I know. I can act really surprised when he gives me the news so you won’t steal his thunder. Are you worried the room is bugged? Just write it on a sheet of paper and pass it to me….I’ll read it….and then EAT it. No trace.
So anyway, the point is I walked away from that ultrasound thinking: cancer. Mostly I was thinking: what are the effin odds that I have TWO types of cancer…..because my choriocarcinoma is registering at zero right now so if it’s cancer it’s a NEW kind.
And then I forgot about cancer on the drive home. (a positive side effect of having ADHD……but it drives everyone crazy. I forget about my bi-weekly blood tests results….every. time.)
Err…..what was I talking about?
My father-in-law called me and said he talked to the radiologist and they weren’t that worried. Then I remembered that I had that ultrasound and that I might have two types of cancer. But he reassured me that it could be any number of things. I’ll need to have a repeat ultrasound in 2 weeks to see any changes.
The funny thing is…..everyone around me always seems to be sick: colds, flu, indigestion (it’s not funny to them). And I always say: I never seem to get sick….knock on wood. Oh, except for cancer. That one little blip on my record.
Another thing I’ve noticed…..I Google things a lot more…..any random onset of symptoms. Just because….I like to torture myself and see what new type of cancer it tells me I have. I’d like to diagnose myself before the doctor has a chance to (but I won’t tell him I already knew, so I don’t steal his thunder). The only problem is…..Google never tells me I have cancer…..99% of the time it tells me that I’m having……A HEART ATTACK.
And then it tells me to call 9-1-1.
Thank you Google.
Heart attack symptoms in women:
Pain in the center of your chest
Pain in your back
Pain in your neck
Pain in your jaw
Pain in your stomach
Shortness of breath
That’s pretty much every symptom under the sun. I feel like I’ve got a handle on cancer…..but I need more clarification on this heart attack thing.
Sorry, this post is long overdue…..but I forgot for a while that I had cancer.
Mary Claire says
Actually I had most of those heart attack symptoms and my doctor sent me to a cardiologist. I had two stress tests ( and those are the most hilarious tests. They make you walk real fast up hill. I just would have rather run walking fast uphill was harder. But the funny thing was they ask you the whole time ” are you having chest pains?” and when I finally said yes. They just kept making me go and I was thinking “um… Isn’t this dangerous?”. Anyway it turned out mt heart was totally fine. It appears I have GERD- a reflux problem that is causing the pain. But anyway in talking to the cardiologist he was so nonchalant about chest pain symptoms (I guess since he sees it all the time) and he said chest pain can be so MANY different things that you can’t always assume its your heart. I guess he was trying to reassure me but still when your chest is hurting it is a little scary and so of course you want to assume the worst! Hope you are feeling ok though!
You always manage to crack me up… Except for the times you make me cry – I forgot about those! LOL!
I’m so here with you. I’m so fearful of the secondary cancer, so far I have diagnosed myself with breast cancer, throat cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, and a brain tumor. Not only have I diagnosed myself with these cancers but for each diagnosis I am 100 % sure and confident of my diagnosis. Here is the actual diagnosis : lumpy breast from hormonal changes, strep throat, GI problems from chemo, my skin just getting older, and my favorite the brain tumor was a sinus infection ,but to give me some credit half my face was numb. I currently have tooth cancer right now, 100% sure. I’m not sure if teeth can even get cancer but my one tooth for sure has it, and there is no possible way it is a cavity 🙂
I totally agree, its a little fear you never get over. And yes, what are the chances of 2 types of cancer? 100% in my case. Yes I did have 2 cancers, and at the same time that were not related to each other. And yes I kicked its butt! I love that you have shared your story with the world. I have read, laughed, cried, and wanted to vomit all at the same time reading your post.
So funny– I hurt my wrist, I think it might be a stress fracture. I called a nurse line today, basically to see what kind of doctor I should make an appointment to see. After about 30 questions solely to verify that it wasn’t a heart attack, she told me to wrap it and take ibuprofen. I guess they really worry about missing that heart attack diagnosis.
I totally do the self diagnosing thing…even more so now that I’m pregnant. My midwife had to tell me to stop looking that the internet and just call in. People in the medical field are so pushy sometimes.
*at the internet not that the internet. Silly sausage link fingers.
Oh my gosh…..I just peed my pants. Since I started my battle against breast cancer in June of 2011, I now have “M.D.” at the end of my name, Google at the ready and yes, the tingle in my lip is lip cancer!
I forget I had cancer too!! Then some dumb a$$ on the street reminds me!
Dr. Ashley, you crack me up!!
Too funny and I can so relate. Chemo brain and thinking every ache and pain is a new kind of cancer are the worst!
Keren Dukes says
..and then eat it.
I just busted out laughing!!!!
haha! My husband is overwhelmingly paranoid that I will relapse. If i get an itch, he wants me to go in for a blood test. If i have a pain in my leg, he wants me to get scanned. It’s never ending. I don’t worry as much. I’m convinced in my head that I’ll never have to be scanned again. I find myself forgetting that I had cancer. Saoirse was always sicker, and I always was fine and my treatment was working so it wasn’t really a big deal. Pretty much my only reminder is my insane scar from my port in the middle of my chest. Maybe I’ll just get a tattoo over it and call it a day :). HOpe you stay feeling well. Don’t google too many symptoms. But if you can find it, try and find the commercial about female heart attack symptoms where the mom is trying to get her kids to school and get to work and she just basically collapses in front of them in the kitchen. That description sounds terrible – but I promise you – It’s hilarious! I’ll see if I can find a link.
Keren Dukes says
OH! I almost forgot to tell you.. I took a pic for you of straws individually wrap.. and was like.. OMGosh!! Costco totally got Ashley’s Dirty straw Memo!
Then.. it was pointed out to me, that I was in Sam’s Club not Costco.
Like I’m expected to know which store I’m in!
Maybe it shouldn’t have, but this post made me laugh so much. Mostly the part about Google telling you that every symptom is a heart attack. Haha. You write so well. Anyway, now I’m feeling self-conscious for laughing at a cancer post, so I’m just gonna go now…
I know exactly what you mean! Waiting on results from a biopsy I had on Monday and its freaking me the hell out. What if its cancer…. Shouldn’t google anymore and self- diagnose myself… Soooo paranoid!
Heidi @ Buttons and Butterflies says
You are OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!!!!!!!
Dr. Google is a evil.
Heidi @ Buttons and Butterflies says
^^UM WOW…nice grammar Heidi. Dr. Google is evil. I am not sure where I was going with the “a”
Southern Gal says
You’re a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Can I get you to visit SC next time you’re home?
I honestly have never laughed so hard at a blog post. I’m sitting here laughing so hard I’m crying and my husband is looking at me like I’m crazy. I even read it to him and he didn’t laugh! You had me at “I’ll eat it!” Thanks for always choosing joy!!
This made me smile….because I am the exact same way!! I am three years out from ALL and every blood test that comes back slightly skewed or ache or pain means CANCER! So far, so good, but I still assume…at least for a little while.
Kim BJ says
You are speaking directly to me today! I am cancer free for 12 years. Every single ache and pain is cancer!! I don’t think it ever goes away, but it gets less scary and more funny as time goes on. I could stub my toe and blame it on a brain tumor affecting my balance.
This blog is strangely normalizing! Thank you for making me laugh, cry, shake my head, and heal. 🙂 Kim
I sent this post to my husband so he knows I’m not the only one who has webmd bookmarked. I will say, the advantage of having cancer is that eating Kraft mac n cheese (which I’ve always called cancer in a box) is something I can do guilt free – I already have cancer, so what do I have to loose?
I do the exact same thing with my epilepsy. I blame all of my symptoms on it!
Thank you for always being so positive. Reading your posts genuinely make me feel better–you taught me how to choose joy even in the darkest of times. You da bomb girl!
I am so relieved I’m not the only one who feels this way!
I had two cancers one right after the other, melanoma and breast cancer, but I’m all good now. I think…. I hope….. LOL
You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your journey.
And stay away from Dr. Google!!
Karen Arthur says
That is so me. LOL I’ve had breast cancer but I have a pre-malignant cyst in my pancreas (my dad died of pancreas cancer and they watch it closely). So back pain, any pain, maybe it’s the cyst growing. I go have an EUS every so often and it hasn’t changed. I’m always praying for a miracle and it’s gone. The doctor comes in, it hasn’t changed, Me: Oh, so it’s still there huh? Whew. At least it isn’t growing. Starts getting closer to time for the EUS and there I go again. Except when I forget about it and someone reminds me. How’s the cyst? Oh crap, I’d forgot. LOL
Thank you for the laugh today and being a kindred spirit.
You always make me laugh! I really hope if I keep reading your posts, you’ll somehow rub off on me 😉 I’m a natural worrier and actually can’t google…it would give me a real heart attack! One of the things I hate the most is getting scans, US, etc and not knowing if they see something and them not say anything, so your speech is my favorite, going to have to try it 😉
i do this with my kids. last month
I diagnosed my son with Fallopian tube cancer.
Don’t laugh… but I do the google diagnosis thing with our dog!! By now the vet asks me “so what did you diagnose her with this time?” i think I might be a dog hypochondriac!!!
Heather B says
A couple of weeks ago I googled those symptoms and I DID call the ambulance. It turns out that I was having a panic attack. Despite the reassurances of the paramedics, e.r. staff, and the doctor, that I did the right thing by calling, I felt completely ridiculous. The only up-side is that the ambulance’s arrival in my neighborhood gave everyone A LOT to talk about. It was nice to liven things up a bit ;-p
Well this post made me feel better! I’ve never had cancer….but I am a cancer researcher. It took my doctor three years to convince me I didn’t have lymphoma! We’re an office full of hypochondriacs and chronic googlers 🙂 and everyone in here has thought, at one point or another, that we’ve had the disease we study. My coworker who studied colorectal cancer convinced her doctor to send her for a colonoscopy because she got so paranoid!!
Yeah, LOVE how people with anxiety type in their symptoms to Google and come up with that – Thanks Google, a HEART ATTACK…my new fear, because YES it has every symptom I am feeling. Choose Joy – don’t Google ♥. Love ya Ash ; )
Great post! Totally understand. Been living with cancer for over a year now, stage IV breast spread to bones. Always think new aches or pains are new cancer. Trying hard to stop. I’m really happy because I don’t have any real Dr. appointments till the end of October – bloodwork and xgeva shots don’t count. I decided to stop worrying and enjoy my off time. Reading your blog makes me laugh and happy to see people going through this can still have a sense of humor! Keep fighting!
I so appreciate this! I don’t have cancer, but my mom did, and even though she SAYS it was no big deal, it was. And we’re pretty sure my grandma did too. So, it’s not “if” for me, it’s “when”. And so many of my friends. It’s friggin’ everywhere! I’m not saying I’m ready to lay down and take it, but reading your posts and other peoples posts of support makes it less scary. And if when never comes, I’m a better more compassionate person because of it.
I thought I was having a heart attack one night. I spent a week in the hospital only for them to decide it was my gall bladder. I’d like to get my head wrapped around the heart attack thing to!
Christina @ Homemade Ocean says
Ashely, you are such a positive and inspiring person…..and a hypochondriac!
It’s ok, I am too. And I always worry that I am having a stroke….I mean how do you REALLY know. Some people have strokes and don’t even know it. What if I am having a stroke right now….oh geesh.
Ha,Ha I’ll read it,eat it, no trace. Thank you for making me smile as you always do. I can also relate to you, I diagnose myself with something everyday, oh, and if someone tells about any type of medical condition, you bet I have it too!!
Over time, you won’t think “CANCER!” about absolutely everything. Although, I still think “CANCER!” with my kids way more than the average mom, I think. Just saw your article in the WFU magazine… had know idea you were a WFU alum! Me too! Class of ’93. 🙂
Hmm, funny. Those are the EXACT symptoms I had when I realized that my daughter that was just a baby yesterday is now a middle schooler today. Maybe I’m having a heart attack?
Michelle Rossignol says
What’s SO ironic is at the top of your post, is the infamous ad for “These 4 Things Happen Right Before A Heart Attack” hahahahaha…oh my thanks for the laughs and the inadvertent ones…..
I giggled at the end of the post and then got teary eyed…. hugs…
Hopefully the cancer blaming will fade with time? My husband has cancer at 15 and it’s not really thought of now. This summer he had a patch of excema and the doctor decided he should biopsy it and we were REALLY????!!!?!!! Oh, and Sono techs that JUST TELL YOU instead of waiting for the doc are the BEST naughty people in the world!
Your humor always amazes me (in a good way). I’m praying for you still. Hopefully it’s nothing at all!
I am definitely having a heart attack. And I’ve been having one for quite some time. I wonder how long I have until I need medical attention. I don’t really have time to be having a heart attack. crap.
Lisa in Tahoe : ) says
Okay I really hope that growth is nothing. ADD can be a blessing. If it weren’t for my visits to the doctor every three months I would forget that part of my breast was removed earlier this year. Oh, I guess there is the pretty scar but I’m not usually staring at my boobs during the day. I just explained to my son last night that he needs to make sure that his brain is engaged in what he is doing. I explained that I wasn’t paying attention to my driving and backed into a pole just that day. He was so shocked that he wanted me to confirm that it was a true story. But, back to you…you are in my thoughts.
Hahaha! I did this just the other night! I had been having the same symptoms for a couple of weeks, so I decided to google it! Doc Google says I have M.S… Turns out that Celiac Disease can sometimes have the same symptoms as M.S! So it was just my C.D. acting up! 😛 Although while reading the symptoms above (heart attack), I think I may be having one of those 😉
OK, so I’m not supposed to laugh but I did and now my mascara has run and I can’t quite explain how funny this post was to my husband – he thinks my sense of humor is weird. Hope I don’t ever have a heart attack because I have panic attacks and the symptoms are the same – I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and I wouldn’t call an ambulance because I don’t want to be embarrassed and give the neighbors one more thing to talk about.
I’m choosing Joy and all will be well.
This post made me LAUGH OUT LOUD…I’m the SAME EXACT WAY!! 3 months after I finished chemo and radiation for Hodgkins Lymphoma they found a lump in my breast. Of course I thought “SHIT I’ve got breast cancer (which my mother is a survivor of and my risk is EXTREMELY high due to the radiation I received on my left breast)…so I thought I was doomed. But my mother and I laughed during my biopsy about how I’ll faint if I see blood and being pissed about losing my .4cm of hair that I had just grown again…the tech thought we were NUTS!! haha Its funny though…once you are a cancer survivor you are tough as nails but totally a secret paranoid lunatic!! haha (ps my oncologist said that normal to be that way…and pss. thankfully it didn’t end up being cancer! just a tumor that surgery took care of!)
PS. Ummm yeah i’m not EROM…haha I’m ERIN! haha my bad! Damn fingers
I love your humor, your candor, your strength and so much more. You lift me up every time I read your post. I always walk away feeling happy & better. Just for the fact of your out look on everything you have been through. I couldn’t stop laughing at what you told the tech LOL! Bless her heart!
But on a serious note, I can see your point on thinking everything is cancer. My family is riddled with heart attacks. So every pain, ache in the arm, flutter (real or imagined) I automatically think of having a heart attack! I just want to say how much I admire you. And I am so happy to be a part of your journal. Your real, honest and tell it like it is. That is very refreshing!
Love & Hugs-Donna
When I had ovariancancer at age19. Doctors decided to keep my righ ovary and uterus. Big mistake with the time because radiotherapy they got really small and unnecessary. I had another cirgury 15 years later thatjust added another mark on my body. Love your blog.
Love you! You are funny and adorable and I’m so glad that you keep forgetting stuff, especially that you had cancer. 🙂 May the LORD continue to heal you and help you!
Claudia Cerrato says
Oh shit…after reading that list of symptoms I am fairly certain that I am having a heart attack….although considering I always have all those symptoms I assume I would have had the heart attack by now!
Also- my husband is a cancer survivor and every ache and pain is a new form of cancer for him…two weeks ago he self diagnosed himself with male breast cancer…even though two weeks earlier he had a full chest X-ray and full blood work which both came back clear. Sure enough his oncologist confirmed it was nothing and said his symptoms could be due to an array of things…like smoking too much marijuana!
Love your blog by the way!
Patricia Blomeley-Maddigan says
It has been awhile since I stopped by, long overdue actually.
This is a great post to come back to!!
But whether I visit here or not, you are always in my prayers.
This made me laugh out when I read this. I’m a 5 year cancer survivor, so I totally understand the self diagnoses business. I laugh (now) when I think of the time I played Dr.Google and took in an article I had found detailing a treatment plan. It freaked me out and I was near tears and hyperventilating. My Oncologist took the paper and pointed out that the patient in the article was a DOG. Needless to say she told my husband to please keep me away from Google.
Before leukemia, I was the same way. “I’ll never get cancer.” It never even crossed my mind. I was 24 years old. Then when my spleen became enlarged. I joked that I had cancer. Sure enough, I did.
After that, I wondered aloud about cancer when there was any significant physical pain or ailment in my body. Do I see my oncologist? Do I see my PCP? Do I look it up online? Drove me crazy.
After talking to my doctor about my likely “ghost” symptoms, my favorite questions became “how do you know?” and “are you sure?”. It took its toll on me, and I went through a long period of time thinking I’d die young. It was devastating.
I’m now 31 and I don’t think about it much anymore. It took a long time to fully embrace life again, regardless of the circumstances. Now I’m back to that place where I believe leukemia is all I’ll have to overcome. I’ll deal with the rest if it ever comes.
Love your blog. I’m grateful for your shared experiences.
I came across this particular post very randomly, but as a 13-year cancer survivor, I’m bookmarking it and re-reading it (and every comment) before I play Dr. Google. It made me laugh, it made me feel normal. And I’m also memorizing your schpiel to tell my next x-ray / ultrasound tech.
I’m a lymphoma survivor, and my doctors are unfortunately almost as paranoid as I am. If I go in with almost ANYTHING, I get bloodwork and a chest x-ray, minimum – if the doctor’s in a really paranoid mood, I’ll probably get an MRI just to be on the safe side, and why not throw in an echocardiogram while we’re at it to rule out a heart attack (always the heart attack!).
So when I went in with the world’s tiniest lump on the back of my head last year, of course I needed to see two different specialists, have an MRI done, and (inexplicably) have a camera sent down my nose. Diagnosis? I have a deviated septum. Oh, wait, that’s not even the same area you were complaining about? Oh. Well, that lump looks fine. But if your sinsuses are bothering you, maybe you should try a nasal spray…
At least it wasn’t a heart attack.
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Best thing I’ve read in a long time. I thought I was the only one that made deals with the techs. First time was following a fender bender..my neck felt funny so I had an MRI. I’m lying there in the tube trying to make the deal…when the tech came in. He was so pale and had such a blank look on his face. All he could say was he found something…it was a tumor on my spinal cord. He took it worse than me. Tumor has been gone for 8 years now. But now I have MS. Every day is a new adventure and I choose to laugh my way through it. I choose joy too!