• How do you deal with a secondary illness?

    Asked by derbygirl on Monday, April 30, 2012

    How do you deal with a secondary illness?

    Besides being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, I am dealing with a serious heart problem. Because of the severe electrical malfunction with my heart, my Electrophysiologist has advised me that I may at some point need to have either an internal defribrillator or pacemaker implanted. However my Oncologist regularly schedules me to have MRI's and CAT scans to check and see if my cancer has reoccured. Because these tests use magnets, I am concerned that if I have the treatment for my heart I will no longer be able to have the scans I need as part of my cancer treatments. On the other hand if I choose not to have a device implanted to control my heart, I could face a much bigger problem. I have talked to all my doctors and they gave me their opinions but said the decision is ultimately mine alone. Right now I feel like it's come down to the flip of a coin, my heart or the cancer. I don't like the idea of using much less effective forms of testing to monitor my cancer.

    1 Answer from the Community

    • Bashiemn's Avatar

      Hi derbygirl.

      I also have a electrical heart issue as well as cancer.
      Do you know what your heart diagnosis is? The elctrical issue I have is called a Left Bundle Branch Block and I was diagnosed with that when I was 18. I was told at the time that I might need a pacemaker. I'm 37 now and have not yet needed a pace maker. Some issues are worse than others with the electrical... Mine has caused mild heart attacks over time which have caused me to have a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy/congestive heart failure - which may mean I will need a heart transplant. However I was lucky that my ejection fraction increased prior to receiving Chemo (*miraculously I must add)...

      That said, with my existing condition and my newer cancer diagnosis I was referred to the University of Minnesota where a Hematologist is working with my cardiologist via telephone calls to ensure I get the proper treatment. I would highly advise finding out how soon they think you would need the pacemaker. As you can see, I have lived without one for 19 years so far when they thought i would need one. Maybe it was a "some day" type of thing.

      Personally, if it were me, I would try to treat the cancer first as long as the heart issue is relatively stable. Get the MRI's and CT's.... But I'd also ask you oncologist and your cardiologist what they do for people with pacemakers who need to have these tests...

      Maybe you could ask the cardiologist what the urgency is if you have lived without a pacemaker. Some issues are definitely more urgent than others...

      Good luck with your decision.
      Bashiemn (Jennie)

      over 4 years ago

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