I’d like to share a story with you today from my childhood that has a lot to do with being a better cancer patient.  

Every summer as a 9 or 10 year old kid, my friends and I would wake up, have breakfast at home, and then get on our bikes and go. We’d all meet somewhere, anywhere, and we’d find different things to do each day. Sometimes we’d stick-fight, we might jump our bikes over the creek, play tackle football, just about any rough-and-tumble activity you can think of. 

So one day, I come home from playing with my friends, and as I’m sitting at the table eating dinner, my mom notices this absolutely unbelievable bruise on my arm, and freaks out. She asks what I’ve done to myself and how I’d gotten the bruise. And to be honest, at my age and with the stuff I did with my friends all day, I had no idea. Not only did I have no idea what happened, I didn’t even know when it happened. 

My mom continues to question me, wanting to know if I was okay, if everything was fine, which it was. At this point, my dad chimes in, and asks how do I not know what happened? And again, I say, “I don’t know.” To which he says, “Were you there when it happened?” And I had to think for a second, but while my dad was kind of being a smart aleck, I got his point. And that point was that of course I was there, and I should have been paying attention. 

And that gets us to the main lesson – as a cancer patient, you are the only person that will be at every consultation, every procedure, and every surgery that comes with your cancer treatment. And you need to pay attention. Pay attention, take notes, and ask questions, because at some point in the future, you may be asked what happened, did you have any complications or side effects, or what did the other doctor have to say? In that situation, it is your job to be an expert on you and all the treatment you have received. 

So if you need to remember something, just ask yourself: Were you there when it happened? Make sure you are, pay attention, and keep notes, because it may be important down the road. Take care!