Thursday, December 7, 2006

Cold or Cancer?

I’ve had a bad cold for about a week now. It started off as a sore throat, then came body aches, loss of voice (hard one for me!), and a teeny-tiny fever (38 C). The body aches -- legs, back, head -- stopped yesterday, only to be replaced by coughing fits which leave me a bit wiped out. Each time I cough, my chest hurts, sometimes on the side where I had radiation, but mostly just beneath the sternum, right where the rib cage ends. And to top it all off -- thick, green mucus. So I’m guessing it’s a bacterial infection.

I haven’t been to the doctor, because I’m pretty sure she’ll say the same and put me on antibiotics. But I want to try to get rid of this myself, without more drugs. So I’ll wait it out a few more days and see what happens. The good news is, the body aches have stopped. I spent almost 48 hours after the Singapore Marathon in bed, hoping to sleep off the aches. It worked. So maybe the coughing and mucus will go away in a few days.

I’ve had two doctor appointments this week that I’ve cancelled -- one with my surgeon and the other with the reconstruction surgeon, both for follow-ups. But I thought I’d wait a few days to get over my cold first. Plus, I don’t want any more doctor bills piling up until we have more funds in the bank!

So here’s the thing about having something as innocuous as a cold. In the post-cancer world, a phlegmy cough could be a sign of fluid build-up in the lungs due to cancer cells growing in the lung lining. Aches deep in the leg bones could be cancer spread to the bones. Headaches could be brain tumors. Most likely, it’s just a bad, persistent cold. And even if it IS cancer spread, a few more days of waiting to see isn’t going to make the outcome any worse probably. Plus, it’s highly unlikely that cancer’s come back so soon. Although the highest percentage of recurrences happens in the first year... and tomorrow will mark my first year since diagnosis. Nope. Pretty sure it’s just a cold.

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