A woman stands in front of an incredibly tall manilla office folder filled with papers. The woman's pose is that of confidence; her hand is on her hip, her head is tilted a bit, her lips are pursed, and she is looking at the viewer.

The Next Chapter

It's been said that we all have a chapter that we don't read out loud. But what happens when people try to make you read that chapter--not only out loud--but over and over again?

That's how I feel every time someone knows that I have a doctor's appointment. Every time that I return, it's like a job interview with a million and one questions.

What are they saying now? That's the first question, and I'm always thrown off guard by that question because it connotes that there's always something wrong.

Even though there is always something else wrong, I'm beginning to feel like people ask that question not because they're really concerned but because they want to know for the sake of knowing.

Cancer is multi-layered

Here's the problem: People don't understand that cancer is not the foundation of our physical building; there are so many other layers to this disease.

We may start out with breast cancer; however, by the time we’re stage 4, other areas of our body may be affected.

In my case, I have lupus, heart disease, sarcoidosis, high blood pressure, and IBS, and this is just the driveway. We haven't even entered the building yet.

So, I can't even get to the front door because I have to navigate through my driveway to get to the front door. Some days are easier than others, but there are some days that any one of these illnesses makes me feel like I'm gridlocked on the worst highway in the world, and there's no movement in sight.

Then there are other days that I can walk right through this medical maze, get inside my house and even manage to enjoy some of my many hobbies or binge-watch a show or two.

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Answering others questions

But it's when I'm daring enough to answer someone's questions with more than my stock answer, "I'm okay," that everything goes downhill.

More often than not, my stock answer is I'm okay, or my favorite answer is that I'm doing better than some and worse than others. When I give that answer, most people nod their heads in agreement, and then they smile the biggest smile ever.

However, when I feel like someone has truly earned the right to know how I'm doing honestly, I give them my driveway inventory, and this is where everything goes left for me.

They hear the driveway inventory list, and the response is almost always, "That's a lot." It is at that moment that I feel like shutting down and putting them in my mental 'Do Not Disturb' file.

Entering my medical home

I haven't even made it inside my medical home, and you're saying it's too much! Imagine how I feel. Sometimes I feel like just saying, damn, if it's too much just for you to hear and you're not even dealing with one-third of what I'm dealing with, how the hell do you think I feel?

Once I went to the doctor, and the receptionist said, "Your chart is the largest one here." Instead of cursing her out or reading her like the New York Times, I smiled and leaned into her personal space, and I whispered, "I like big things." She turned fifty shades of red and apologized for her insensitive comment.

Nobody wants to be reminded of all the things that are wrong in their body.

By invitation only

I know that there are many people who are stage 4 that are sick and tired of answering the age-old question, what's wrong now?

If I say, "Nothing much, I'm just striving while I'm dying," then people say, "We all are." Which, though true, I think is the most asinine thing to say to a terminally ill person.

So, unfortunately, I am at the stage in my journey where I'm done with answering questions about doctor's visits and about all things wrong.

I'm tired of telling or explaining my medical history to people who aren't my caregivers, are you?

The next chapter of my life is by invitation only. I will only share medical updates with people who are truly interested in my well-being. Everyone else will have to read these blogs.

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