By Mike SnyderThe thoughts start kicking in about a weekbefore I leave for MD Anderson. Once I've finished all the practical preparations,I struggle to stayoptimistic and hopeful about my chondrosarcomatreatment.I push thosethoughts to the back of my mind, but as my travel date gets closer, they becomemore insistent. During my drive to the airport, they squeeze in close, likefellow passengers on an overcrowded bus. What will myscans show? Are my tumors bigger? Have theychanged shape? Are there any new tumors?
Coping with doubt during chondrosarcoma treatment
The idea of new tumors makes thereally morbid thoughts kick in: Will I be able to stay on my clinicaltrial? What if there isn't another trial I qualify for? Is this the timewhen my doctor will tell me there isn't anything else they can do for me? Willhe send me home to face whatever the future holds forme without medication or treatment? Without hope? At thatpoint, I mentally slap myself for letting the bad thoughts in. I can't let themwin. Then I realize I'm not letting the bad thoughts in, I'm confronting them. I'mlearning about my own fears. And that allows me to confront them.Thatdoesn't mean I'm not nervous about my results. I am. And it doesn't mean I'msuddenly immune to scanxietybecause I'm not. It does mean I'm learning everything I can about my cancer, mytreatment options and what's available to me to make dealing with all of iteasier, even if the news isn't good.Fighting back against cancer
The clichés that ignorance is fear andknowledge is power are truer for cancer patients than many other people. Themore we know about cancer and what it will do, the more we can prepareourselves to deal with it. The more we know about our treatments and what theyinvolve, the easier it is to deal with them because they are familiar. And ifsomething is familiar, we can find ways to deal with it. Don't getme wrong. I'm not talking about looking through rose-colored glasses or beingoptimistic to the point of hiding your head in the sand. We're dealing withcancer. We have to be realistic about what we're dealing with. But that doesn'tmean we have to quit laughing, stop living or give up. It means making our ownchoices and living our life on our terms.Does thisapproach always work? The honest answer is no, it doesn't. Despite my bestefforts, I've gone to appointments feeling lost and have come out of those sameappointments scared and fighting back tears. Sometimes being hopeful andoptimistic takes everything I have.But Iknow I shouldn't be afraid of those times or feelings. It's okay to be worried,confused or scared. I write about those feelings, and I know that there isalways someone at MD Anderson who can help me through them. But I don't holdthose doubts in. I don't let it overpower me. I don't let it win.Chondrosarcoma has taken my left leg, the use of my right arm and much of my mobility. Itdoesn't get to take my dignity, my love for family and friends or my outlook onlife. Part ofwhy cancer can't take those things is because I know it will try. I know itwill hit hard when I'm down, try to overpower me when I'm weak and tell me badthings when I'm scared. Because I know cancer will do these things, I can dosomething it doesn't expect: I can fight back.Mike Snyder's cancer journey began with a soreleft knee in the mid-1990s. After a variety of tests and minor surgery tocorrect the problem, he was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma. In spring 2011, his doctorrecommended that he switch to a hospice-type care because his tumors weregrowing too fast. This was an answer he refused to accept.Readmore blog posts by Mike Snyder