The stress of it all…


It’s no secret that I don’t like hospitals! As soon as I walk through the doors I get anxious. I don’t like the smell, the sounds and how much time I have spent in them. Don’t get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for all the staff, volunteers and patients that fill the rooms and corridors…but being inside one stresses me out.

Yesterday I went for a follow up with the surgeon who removed my gall bladder on New Year’s Eve… out with the old, in with the new!?  I had an appointment in the outpatient clinic for 3pm. I was the last scheduled appointment of the day. The nurse told me that things were running a little behind and apologized for the wait. What can you do? Obviously there were patients ahead of me that needed extra time. I’m sure I have been one of them before. So I waited…and waited…and waited. The longer I waited, the more anxious I got. Finally, 90 minutes later I was called in to the examining room to wait to see my surgeon. Another 20 minutes passed before the door opened and a very large man entered.

“Hi, I’m Calvin, a resident here. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions and examine you?”

Calvin was about 6’5″ and well over 300lbs. He was an imposing character to say the least. He reviewed my chart, asked me a lot of questions about my “other” surgeries and then asked me to lie back so he could see how I was healing.

“Does this hurt?” he asked as he pressed down on my abdomen.

“Yes, that is very tender” I winced as he leaned down onto me. I’m not sure if my resident understood just how BIG he is and how much weight he transfers onto his patients as he pushes on them. Lord!

He seemed happy with how things were healing, and told me I could sit up.

“Has anyone discussed the pathology report with you? Let me go get it and we can review the findings.”

Huh? What pathology report? My face turned white. Why were they testing my gall bladder? Was something wrong? Findings? What findings? Oh FU#K please don’t tell me I have cancer there too!?!?!?! Oh god, I can’t breathe.

I waited for what seemed like an eternity for him to return. My palms were sweating, my heart was racing and I felt nauseous.

“All good. Everything is normal. Dr. R will be right in to examine you” and he was gone.

When the surgeon did come in I’m sure he could see that I was “upset.”

“Everything ok? How are you feeling?”

I said that I was “healing” albeit still very tender ( especially after my examination with Calvin!)

“I was very worried when your resident asked if anyone had discussed the pathology report with me” I said. “As someone who has heard those words before and told they have cancer it’s very scary.”

He explained that every organ that is removed undergoes testing and that it is a normal routine. The unfortunate thing is, that there is NOTHING normal about having cancer. It becomes part of your psyche. It embodies every inch of your mind and all the stress that goes with it can come bubbling up with just the mention of something simple.

By the time my exam was over, the outpatient clinic was closed. There was no one left. The halls were deserted and most of the lights had been turned off. I found my way to the main corridors of the hospital where things were still buzzing and sat down in the lobby to collect myself. Ok, Patti, breathe. Everything is fine. At least that is what I keep telling myself. “I’m fine” has become my mantra. But my body has been through a lot and it shows. The result of all the surgeries; the amount of anaesthetic that I have had and the stress of it all is causing my hair to break off in chunks. From all the research I’ve done, this is not uncommon! No one told me that I should prepare to have a “layered look” hairdo. In fact, no one tells you much of anything to be honest. Since being diagnosed with cancer 20 months ago, I have researched and read everything I could get my hands on regarding breast cancer. Most of what’s out there is very clinical, with not much detail as to the real effects of what this horrendous disease puts you through. It tears away at you physically, emotionally and spiritually. It isolates you. It damages relationships. It burdens you financially. It is relentless. It wants to destroy you. And it makes sure you never forget that!


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President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thank you, Patti, for keeping us all updated on your recovery! My eyes swelled up with tears when you talked about what cancer puts “us” through. So true. It’s always on my mind, too – the mind and body doesn’t forget (oh well, perhaps the mind does forget some things – after all the anesthesia, lol, but one never forgets the anxiety especially at follow up visits and recurring exams. It’s coming up to the 7th anniversary for me of learning that I had breast cancer. I am so sorry that you are going through hard times health-wise. I pray for you and know that you will reach the other side with the best of health. Know that you have support from your friends here. Hugs!


  2. Re a info about how treatment will affect you ect, you are so right! I am, by virtue of my previous career, more than capable of reading and understanding the scientific literature on breast CA but there is very little that comprehensively covers how it will affect you


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