Friday, August 27, 2004 – 2:18 am
For the Paranoid
I’ve been to my group therapy a couple of times now (it’s a special group specifically for young adults with cancer) and one thing seems to be common among all of us: None of us saw the cancer coming. In fact, most of us went months without being diagnosed because our respective doctors all thought our coughs, back pains, chest pains, etc were all routine acute afflictions and not the monster that is cancer.
I can see both sides of this coin. On one hand, no one thinks young people get cancer. In fact, statistically we only represent 200 out of the 6000 new cancer cases that come into the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre every year. We even admit the last thing we ever expected our sicknesses to turn out to be cancer. On the other hand, I also see that doctors can be too quick to dismiss something as a minor acute illness and not probe further to rule out things like cancer.
The solution? Vigilence. There’s no need to go out and research the early symptoms of every kind of cancer, but I think being aware that not all illnesses can be cured with bedrest and a better diet is a good start. Young people – though we may think it – are not invincible and we do get cancer from time to time. Make sure when you see your doctor about any lengthly sickness that the right tests are ordered and you’re not just given some pills to swallow so you’ll get the hell out of their office faster.
What’s the result of this vigilence? Longer line-ups for diagnostic tests like CT scans, X-Rays, and MRIs. I had to wait weeks for my initial CT scan. If every doctor arbitrarily requested a CT scan for every patient that thought their illness was “fishy”, the line-ups would grow exponentially. This creates a whole new problem that everyone will pay for in the long run.
Is it worth it, though? The lives saved by “unessecary” testing versus the lives saved by quick testing? Either you have people complaining that they died because their doctor never requested the test, or people complaining they died because their doctor ordered the test but it took 6 months to be tested.