The Reality of My Cancer Scare and How You Can Learn From It
Around the second week of May, I was at work on my second break and I wasn’t feeling very well. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath, and I wasn’t getting enough air. I went outside the building and tried to breathe in as much of the cold air as I could. I tried filling my lungs. I tried drinking water. I tried everything. But nothing was working.
I started to feel extremely dizzy. I felt like I was going to pass out. Spasms started to shake my body and everything felt like it was spinning out of control. So I was taken to the First Aid room.
The medic sat me down on the bed and pulled out an oxygen tank. Needless to say, I didn’t go back to work that night. They called 911 and two ambulances came and I was bundled into one and rushed to the hospital.
Several hours later, the doctor’s results were in. They believed this was a version of a panic attack and they asked if I had anxiety and/or depression. They asked if I’d ever had suicidal thoughts. I said yes. I felt so… vulnerable and exposed to their judgment of me.
Fast forward, to the next day. I was feeling much better so I had returned to work. But, it happened again. This time I made it until about one hour to the end of my shift. I had gone over to my supervisor to tell him that I was done with the job he had given me to do when I felt a sudden dizziness and had to pause.
He immediately saw my trouble and positioned me under one of the fans, even going so far as to turn it so that it was directed at my face before opening and giving me a bottle of water to drink. While the water was a welcome relief it was no help in stopping the dizziness or slowing my breathing down. I was taken to First Aid by my supervisor and the process began all over again. Oxygen tank, calling 911, the ambulance and EMTs coming, being helped into the ambulance then off to the hospital.
This time around took much longer than the first. This time there were blood tests and even an X-ray. The doctor this time was the emergency room doctor. After looking through all of the test results he had concluded that I might have a blood clot in my lungs. But the only way to know for sure was to have a CT scan done. He then proceeded to tell me that there were risks involved. A CT scan pumps 10 percent of your lifetime’s worth of radiation into your body in 30 seconds.
With that much radiation in my body, the risk of my contracting cancer was very high.
At that moment, time seemed to stop for me. The weight of the decision that I had to make was very pressing. At 19, I was a legal adult, my parents couldn’t make the decision for me. They could not help, this was my choice and mine only. I began to try and weigh all the pros and cons in my mind. But it was too much, I couldn’t, didn’t want to make the decision on my own.
The doctor offered to make a phone call that could put me on the waiting list directly. Most often, it takes months on a waiting list to get the CT scan done but with the push of a few simple buttons, he could put me right through. The decision weighed heavily on my mind and with the doubt that I may not be doing the right thing, I told the doctor no. I would wait to see if it happened again before making a final decision.
The next week I made an appointment to visit my family doctor to see if he could shed any light on what was happening to me. He took my blood pressure, asked me to try breathing in different positions and did all the necessary procedures to formulate a proper check-up. Then he sent me to the lab with a paper authorizing them to perform another blood test.
About a week and a half later, I received a call from him with the affirmation that I did not have a blood clot in my lungs. I went back the next week and he told me that after reviewing all the data from the tests, the problem was most likely my blood pressure.
He went on to tell me that it’s very common for young women around my age to have a low blood pressure. Providing I worked in a very hot place with little or no ventilation, and taking into account that I’m very tall and was not bending up and down frequently, my blood pressure just plummeted. It put a lot of strain on my heart to pump the blood all the way up and so with all the heat my heart just gave out entirely, which caused my blood pressure to plummet.
And the rest is history. I’m doing fine now…most of the time. I’ve had a few short episodes since then but nothing serious enough to go back to the hospital about. There is still a possibility that I may have to have that CT scan after all but for now it’s in God’s hands and I’m quite content to leave it there.
Now I know a lot of you are wondering, why did I write this? First, because I’m tired of trying to explain it to people every time they ask. Second, because I want to get it all down on paper so I have a record of it for future reference. Third, because I know that going to hospitals can be a scary thing.
Trust me, I’ve been in and out of hospitals since I was seven years old and I’ve had more surgeries than I can count on one hand. But mostly, because I want to let all the kids out there, all the teenagers, all the young adults, all the adults… I want to let you know you don’t have to do it alone. There are people, good people, who understand what you’re going through and who want to help.
And you have me. I may not know any of you personally, but I want you to know I will be here for you if you ever need someone to talk to. I also want you to know that there is always hope. And the name of my hope is Jesus.
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Getty Images photo via kieferpix