Angela’s Corner: Cancer – The Default

IMGP9944_edited-1In the past, I have mentioned this hip issue I have been having.  I can pin point it starting from one of our hikes last summer.  It was a short three-miler, but it was the most grueling hike I have ever been on.  The elevation gain was insane, leaving the hike to be just like taking the stairs for a mile and a half.  However, these would not be ordinary stairs.  They would be stepping up and down over huge tree roots; my short legs were having a rebellious attitude on the way down.

A couple months later, I attempted to pick up some jogging and other cardio exercises.  My hip started that rebellious attitude again where it pretty much told me I am not allowed to do anything like that again.  Sitting down in certain positions hurt.  Standing up to walk hurt.  Standing in one place for a period of time hurt.  Lying on my side hurt.  I never would have thought exercise would give me that much pain.  I stopped what I was doing to allow my hip to heal.  Whatever I did on that hike down that hill months prior was a bigger issue than I thought it was.

After a couple of weeks and a few visits to the chiropractor, my hip started to heal.  I wasn’t in the extreme pain I had been previously, and the pain subsided to a dull (periodical) pain.  However, when the new year came around, I noticed that dull pain was still there.  It was definitely time to figure this out.  A trip to my doctor lead to an x-ray.  “Let’s rule out cancer and a possible fracture,” she said.  I was shocked to hear the “C” word again.  I never thought it could be cancer, but I understood where she was coming from.  The next step was physical therapy to increase muscle strength in hopes of reducing what could be tendonitis.  No problem!  I was willing to try anything.  After all, hiking season would be here before we know it.

Physical therapy came and went with only five appointments.  I was not feeling much relief with the added daily exercises.  The therapist, as great as she is, was having difficulty figuring out what might be going on.  She went the cancer route as well, checking the x-rays first to rule it out.  Thankfully there was nothing there.  None of my muscle tests were able to recreate the pain again, leaving her to be stumped.  She referred me to Physiatry.  In the meantime, the exercises were making me stronger, working the muscles that haven’t been worked in years, but the pain is still there.

I recently met the Physiatrist last week.  We discussed my medical history and when the pain started.  His initial thoughts drifted towards cancer as well.  A review of the x-rays months prior showed no sign of cancer.  He checked the muscle tests, just like the physical therapist, with no results of inducing pain.  I even have a hard time inducing pain on demand, there’s never one thing in particular that makes it hurt.  Something is definitely going on and the next step leads me to an MRI in hopes it will be more telling than anything else I have had.

In amongst all of these appointments for my hip, I had my bi-yearly check up with my oncologist.  As I’m explaining my symptoms he heads to the computer to look at my bloodwork.  There is a certain marker that would show activities in the bone.  Thankfully that was given the all clear.  It’s interesting to me that because I have a history of cancer the default is to rule out cancer.  If I was anyone else, the initial thought of cancer for me would be a later thought for someone else.  At some point through all this pain, I too, thought about cancer, but it wasn’t until the pain wouldn’t go away.  Now with anything, a pimple under a mole, some added joint pain, even an inflamed lymph node leads my initial thoughts – my default thoughts – to cancer.  That’s not the way I would like to think about things.  I like to stay positive and move my thoughts in a positive direction, but when all the doctors’ initial thoughts are cancer, it’s kind of hard to keep that positivity.

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