#8 Ask Every Question
We’ve all been told that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Despite hearing it mutliple times over the course of our life, there’s always still questions we are hesitant to ask for fear of someone thinking we’re stupid. As a personal trainer I always tried to get clients to ask every question. My thought was that if you didn’t understand it then you weren’t going to put your effort into it. With understanding came knowledge and that led to power. With more power of the understanding, then the why came to have more meaning. That meaning drove better results and client happiness.
The same would hold true to a disease that will affect every bit of your daily routine. Cancer, or otherwise, anything that will have an overwhelming impact on your life needs to be understood. In the case of my personal training clients, a common saying I had was that if I couldn’t explain why we were doing something then we had best NOT be doing it. If the one in the lead can’t have a decent explanation of events and outcomes, then how can you be expected to follow them? I took this same thought into my own cancer journey.
In the early stage of my diagnosis after having confirmed that I had CMML instead of CLL or CML, I did a little bit of research on my own. I first asked my doctor for resources about my disease. I wasn’t just going to randomly search the internet. Google would have likely told me I was pregnant as it would have told me I had cancer. From my doctor’s suggestions, I started doing a little reading. That reading developed into questions. So as the process went on of me doing some reading and getting results back. I started asking questions. Some types of leukemia can be easily treated with medication. I knew a friend at work that had CML and he had been treating it with oral meds for almost twenty years and was in relatively good shape.
By asking questions I soon found out that my particular leukemia mainly affected older populations. The common age was 65 and older. So to be diagnosed at 40 was a little unexpected. This led to a rather hard question for me to ask. I liked my first doctor and she was very thorough but I had to ask how many patients she had treated that were my age. Her response was that she had not treated very many and I was likely one of the youngest she had seen. I didn’t pry because I wasn’t trying to breach any doctor/patient confidentiality but I needed to know her level of experience.
The odds of being under the age of 65 and being diagnosed with CMML are rare. There’s only about 100 people in that age range diagnosed every year. You might have as many as 900 different hospitals across the country that treat leukemia. There could be some hospitals that never see or very rarely see a patient as young or younger than myself. While I would say that the average treatment is still the same, there’s a bit that youth helps to supply when it comes to facing off against something like cancer.
By asking questions, it got me to seek out a second opinion. I’m fortunate enough to have two hospitals within my city that offer bone marrow transplants. Not every city will have that many options. Or they might not have any options at all. I’ve met several patients that have needed to travel 2-3 hours to see the doctors here.
I spent time talking to both my original doctor and the doctor where I received a second opinion. I spent a bit of time talking to my wife and we in turn asked many questions. Treatments, medicines, outcomes, side effects, etc. The list is forever growing and just when you think you’ve asked them all, the answers they provide will only leave you asking more questions.