For my entry today, I wanted to share with you an email exchange with Lisa Downs, the nurse practitioner who is the coordinator of the Lymphoma Program at Penn, and is a partner of Steve Schuster, my doctor. She has been my number one source of information and support as I’ve gone through chemo.
From: Michael Yudell
Sent: Mon 4/23/2007 1:47 PM
To: Downs, Lisa
Subject: Pep Talk
I need a pep talk. I know “pep talker” is probably not in your job description, but given your experience with this nonsense, and given how your talk the other night (at the Lymphoma Research Foundation meeting) was sort of a pep talk, I figured you’d be up for the job.
You guys got me through this in one piece, minus of course, the now vanquished lymphoma.
And I don’t need to tell you what a positive attitude I’ve had about going through this. I know you’ve seen that.
But now that treatment is behind me, and it is time to watch again (a fact Steve reminded me of this morning with his “we need to image you” comment”–couldn’t he have waited a few weeks before he reminded me that this will go on for many years to come) I could use some suggestions on the transition back to being a patient in the clinic again. And I could use some peppy statements about what lies ahead for me, if you think that that is medically appropriate.
I know you guys can’t promise me a thing. That is not what I am looking for. As a matter of fact, I am not sure what I am looking for.
But maybe you know what I am looking for? Other than my hair, of course.
From: Lisa Downs
Date: April 23, 2007 2:16:30 PM EDT
To: Michael Yudell
Yeah, this is always a stressful time for people. You have to transition from actively fighting the disease to feeling like you are a sitting duck again. There isn’t much you can do other than try to relax and get on with other things. We have so many people that are years out and getting back to what life is all about. It will be really good for you. Concentrate on what used to make you happy, your daughter and your wife. I think once the imaging is over you will relax again. People always freak out at every scan. Steve could have waited a few weeks to tell you that, he just isn’t as senstive as me!! Remember, this is what you have been waiting for, cancer free and you don’t need chemo. That is what this has all been about. What lies ahead for you is hopefully nothing but what you make. You have a career to think about and a college fund to start for your kid. Pour yourself back into what a young adult would normally think of. As time goes by it will get easier. It will be more real when your hair does come back too. Oh, and plan that vacation!!
I will need to write pep talker into my resume…