• When you were diagnosed with cancer did you think it was a death sentence?

    Asked by SuckItCancer on Sunday, July 5, 2020

    When you were diagnosed with cancer did you think it was a death sentence?

    I have been told to 'relax, it's only skin cancer". But I've also read so many cases of people who died from melanoma, (skin cancer). So when I was diagnosed I was convinced that this was it. I've slowed up on that line of thought now, but I'm still filled with fear.

    15 Answers from the Community

    15 answers
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      I did because everyone I had ever known at the time who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer died within 6 months. However, even though I thought my time on earth was short, I was determined to continue living my life as long as the Lord gave me breath. When my oncologist asked me if I had any questions after pronouncing me terminally ill, I said, "Yes. Can I keep playing agility with my dogs?" That was my only question. It basically translated, "Yes. Can I keep living my life?" It dumbfounded my oncologist, but he said yes. And, I did.

      That was in November 2012.

      29 days ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar

      Because mine was caught at such an early stage, I am not one who thought it was a death sentence. I think that is one of the benefits of the massive PR campaign for breast cancer screening. It is one of the things for which regular preventive screening is just part of life for most women. It is something we are asked about in our history pretty much from the time we start developing breasts. We know our family history. We know our risk factors. We know we need to be screened starting at age 40 or sooner if we have a history.
      I am pretty much one who is "best case scenario" but also the "cautionary tale." I had several "normal" mammograms- 7 to be exact. I figured "I have small breasts. I would definitely be able to detect a lump. I have no family history- at least none that I know of." My paternal grandmother had a double mastectomy. I have no history on my mother's side- well I don't mean there is no-one on my mother's side that had it. I mean, because my mother was adopted and never sought to track down her parents, I have no known history. I considered working to find my history, but it's a tricky thing when it's something my mother has never wanted to do. I refuse to open what could be a can of worms. The maternal line stops with me anyhow, so if I am it- that's all there is.
      Just because I have had seven "normal" mammograms, I still found out I had these calcifications that might not have been palpable until they were much larger and much more advanced in stage. I thought I could skate by a couple of years. It just wasn't "convenient" to go get the mammogram, but now I will clear my schedule whenever, wherever, whyever to be sure I keep this disease at bay.
      I really feel for those of you whose cancers are not often caught super early because of routine screenings. I hope that things continue to develop in the way of early detection for all sorts of cancers. I hope the PR machine makes it "normal" for any kind of routine screening to be done and covered by insurance. The sooner we can halt this beast, whatever its source and nature, the sooner we can begin to eradicate it.
      It seems that most cancers, even the ones that seem like a death sentence at first, are becoming more treatable. At least, strides are being made to commute those death sentences or to delay them.
      I am sure I would have felt very differently if my cancer was caught at Stage IV. I am thankful it was caught early and I don't have to face the grim reality at this particular time. We all know that could change at any time with any appointment.

      29 days ago
    • Bengal's Avatar

      I hoped beyond hope that I wouldn't hear those words when I had my post biopsy follow-up. After all it could just be a cyst. Well, the doctor said those words, "sorry, but it IS cancer". My first thought was "I'm dead".

      Interesting how things play out. Last fall I heard that that doctor had been diagnosed with cancer and was in treatmenr. At my next follow-up he was very open about talking about it, declaring himself "one of you now". He has spent a significant portion of his career dealing with cancer patients. Nothing new to him. Yet he told me when he heard those words, you have cancer, his very first thought was "I"m dead"! Doctors are people too. Surprise. They have the same fears and anger and incomprehension of "why me" as we do.

      29 days ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar

      @SuckItCancer, it's not very nice that people have told you it's "ONLY" skin cancer. Well you are right. People DO die from skin cancer sometimes. But if you caught it and you are working with your treatment plan and doing what you can to avoid having it spread- you are doing as much of the battle as you can. People just don't think about the things they say.
      No kind of cancer is "Just"..... Cancer. It's all scary. It's all potentially dangerous.
      I don't mean to rain on the parade. As one who had an early stage diagnosis, I get "it's only breast cancer. That's so treatable." Like we can take a little teaspoon of medicine and it will be gone in the morning. Yeah, not so much.
      Skin cancer also has a big PR machine behind it "Use the right sunscreen. Stay out of the sun. If you see a change in a spot on your skin get it checked." Lots of early detection stuff and screening stuff. I have one of those "just...cancers." It's still scary and unnerving. When those folks get a "just....cancer" they will think twice.
      If you had an early stage diagnosis that was fairly easily treatable in a minimally invasive fashion, consider yourself relatively fortunate. I have discovered it CAN always be much worse, but it could always be better too (you could NOT have cancer at all.)

      29 days ago
    • Teachertina's Avatar

      It took me a few years to realize I wasn’t going to die for a while. Advanced RCC, kidney removed, recurring surgery to remove half a lung, another recurring surgery to remove 20 percent of other kidney, still here 14 years later, working out at the gym, swimming, fishing, kayaking, hiking! Can’t hardly believe it! Life is good!

      29 days ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      Life itself is a death sentence. But when? Every day, 24/7/365 in the US, 103 men, women and children die in vehicle accidents. 4+ every hour of every day. Not one was expecting to go on that day. From that aspect, we might consider viewing cancer differently - even if we do not prevail (and increasing numbers of us are prevailing). We have become painfully aware of our mortality and thus, we focus more on what really matters. Apologizing for our wrongs. Repairing broken relationships. Noticing beauty both large and small. Filling our lives with the love that was supposed to fill us even before. We can slow the speed of life down to a level at which we can take moments to enjoy the life which we have been given. A loving glance, a warm touch of a friend's hand. Small things that went unnoticed before. Viewed that way, cancer has become a blessing to me.

      29 days ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I had similar responses when I told people that I had hodgkin's disease. "Oh, that's the GOOD kind of cancer to have" is one response, from my first doctor. Of course, that was 32 years ago before it wasn't politically correct to say that any kind of cancer was a good kind. But the idea was that the cure rate was 90%, so I guess if there was a box of different cancers on the table and I had to go over an pick one, I would pick it over my latest head and neck cancer diagnoses.

      As for thinking it was a death sentence, I will list them separately.

      The first diagnosis, Not a chance I thought anything was going to happen out of it. I was too young and stupid to know how serious it was.

      The second diagnosis still didn't think that anything was going to happen bad. I did look at it a little closer.

      The third diagnosis, yes, I thought this was it. I thought the game was over. After being clean for 18 years I was diagnosed with my third cancer and 2nd type. This time a more aggressive form of cancers much worse than Hodgkin's diseases. And my first doctor had planted the seed in my mind back then that if it ever came back a third time, it would be "difficult to control", was the phrase that stuck with me. I thought this was it for sure, for about a month, until I met my first oncologist at Vanderbilt. He swept away my fears with a confident attitude and plan of attack. And, his, and Vanderbilt's experience with dealing with this type of cancer. He said, "this is nothing, we do this every day". Good enough for me.

      The fourth diagnosis, now I thought OK, I've dodged it 3 times, now for sure, this is it. Again, I felt that for a month or so until I heard the plan and the experience they had in dealing with it.

      Number five got shaky. After the fourth was a failure and at the time of diagnosis number five had no other options, I pretty much accepted that this was probably it. But, at the same time, I am always confident that something will pop up along the way.

      Then, just like that, the oncology department at Vanderbilt called and said they needed to see me. They explained to me the fantastic results some people had been getting with Keytruda. But, since I was a 5-time recurrent patient, they wanted to add the clinical trial to it.

      So far so good, I've put my funeral plans back on the shelf for future use. Looks like I won't need them for the next few months at least.

      29 days ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar

      Greg, you are the most hopeful person I know. I offer prayers for you all the time. I am so glad you have such a great medical support team. That has to help you keep your spirits up. Know that all of us here in WhatNext land are cheering for you for as long as the universe allows you to stay.

      29 days ago
    • Carool's Avatar

      Greg, I second legaljen1969’s post.

      28 days ago
    • mom2two's Avatar

      I did! Just hearing the word cancer, scared me to death! Even though it had spread to my lymph nodes, it didn't go through them all, luckily. People also were saying and giving me the impression that melanoma isn't that bad. I even have a sister-in-law who is a nurse, tell me its the easiest cancer to cure. Tells me how little she really knows. Little do they know that people die from it all the time and I was lucky mine was found in time. The thing that worries me is that it could come back anywhere at any time. I am 5 years clear and have been in a clinical trial as well. As time goes on, I try not to think about it much at all. :)

      28 days ago
    • BugsBunny's Avatar

      I had only heard horror stories about people dying from cancer. People that I told I had cancer told me that Oh, I had an uncle that died from that, and similar things. So yes, I thought I was going to be one of them.

      28 days ago
    • missinack16's Avatar

      The first thing I thought when I heard the words, "You have malignant melanoma and have to have it excised immediately", was that I was going to die. I went through surgery, radiation, and a year of Interferon treatments. I would do anything to rid my body of cancer. Well, that was August, 2002. In April, 2004 I was declared NED and though I am still anxious as my annual full body exam comes closer, it is a closed door as far as I am concerned. However, I never go out without sunscreen and have a full wardrobe of SPF 50 clothing and hats that I wear every day. Better safe than sorry!
      The fright will subside once you have other things to worry about!

      28 days ago
    • Molly72's Avatar

      I had Melanoma in the early 1960's, I had extensive surgery and was left very extensive ugly scars.
      To those who say it's easy to cure & treat, well guess what I say to them!

      My next bout with cancer came about 8 or so years ago: Angiosarcoma, Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumor, and a bunch of pre-cancers that involved more intensive surgeries. Then more recently, another bunch of skin cancers treated with Moh's surgeries.
      Errant genes were involved in my case.

      Now I am going through more medical problems that believe it or not, are more painful and deabilitating (sp.) than all those cancers.
      What I learned from all this is that I have very little fear of the big C anymore.

      27 days ago
    • Carool's Avatar

      Molly72, I’m sorry that you are going through more medical issues.

      27 days ago
    • BobsProstate's Avatar

      I was scared with the diagnosis, but didn't think it will be a death sentence. But, we never really know.

      25 days ago

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