I refuse

Jul 24

I actually have my “-ist’s” as my favorites in my phone: my oncologist, my cardiologist and my podiatrist.

My oncologist and my cardiologist operate in STAT mode most of the time: cancer and heart problems can quickly snowball so their offices absorb tons of calls and impromptu visits.  Podiatrists do not operate in STAT mode.  Podiatrists don’t have a lot of emergencies, so my podiatrist has added an asterisk in my chart: if I call, his staff are to get me in STAT.  I do love that about my doctors.  STAT.  Once again, I’m special.

I’ve had a bunch of nail problems over the past two and a half years.  This often happens to chemo patients, but for some reasons all of my problems have concentrated in my toes and fingers.  Since I’m well-versed in the other possible side-effects of cancer/chemo, I feel pretty good about having pesky toenail/fingernail issues.  It’s a blessing, actually.  I see my podiatrist at least once a quarter (usually more) and everything rolls on.

After losing it three times, my left big toenail is growing in again, and there’s a corner that is growing in instead of out.  It doesn’t hurt, but it probably will eventually.  This month my podiatrist suggests a mini surgery: a chemical matricectomy.  It requires three weeks of healing time and staying out of natural bodies of water during that time.  With my fickle digits, I don’t want to risk breaking the rules: I seem to be prone to infections.

A look at my summer calendar: I’ve got camping, a lake vacation, a canoe trip, and dreams of a lake blob upcoming.  All in natural bodies of water.  I do not have a three week window this summer where I can sit on the bench.

After all those fun summer water events will be autumn.  When we will scan.

SO.  Do I have my chemical matricectomy and sideline myself from some of the summer activities so that IF cancer pops up and I need more chemo, I won’t have to worry about my TOE?

Good grief.  My toe, for pete’s sake.  But it’s a legit risk.

I booked the appointment for the surgery and sighed as I thought of the fun stuff I would miss.

And then I cancelled the appointment because I refuse to plan on cancer.

Yes, we’ll scan in the fall.  I plan on cruising through the scan and having another six months of “easy drugs” like I’m on now.  I can have the matricectomy — assuming it is still necessary — in the cooler months when I’m not adventuring so much.  As I have no associated pain right now, the only thing driving the urgency is the fact that I’m not currently immuno-compromised.  And I plan to stay that way thank-you-very-much-cancer.

I refuse to plan on cancer.

I’m doing busy, adventurous, happy, playful, dirty, fun things.   And I’m not sidelining myself for a “what if.”

That’s the hard part of this Stage IV cancer thing.  Little things like an issue with a toenail become weighty cancer-related decisions that come out of nowhere.  Amidst my  days I have to navigate the laundry, and the children, and the food, and the cancer worry, and the toenail plus cancer risk.  I quickly go from normal to what-the-what?

I refuse to plan on cancer.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  –Colossians 3:2


  1. Melody Smith /

    Good Plan! Let the skin become wrinkled from all the wonderful water activities 🙂

  2. Aunt annie /

    You go girl!!!! You “toe”tally deserve more fun this summer, so HANG TEN and CARRY ON!

  3. Kris S. /

    Sounds like an excellent plan. While you are blessed with your ability to share your thoughts and plans with those you know and don’t know, we are blessed to learn through you how to understand and accept a life with cancer. And we are also given the opportunity to send our prayers for you that your plan is His plan — how could it not be when it is so eloquently written?

  4. Christin /

    I respect and admire you.

  5. Martha /

    Great post – thank you!

  6. Janey McKinney /

    I’m so glad of your decision to…..wait till all the fun things of summer are completed! You go girl! Have a blast!

  7. I see how this was a difficult choice and I admire how you went about making your decision. Easy? Definitely not! But I see wisdom in your words here.

  8. Erika /

    Right on!

    • Shari /

      You have such a powerful and inspiring attitude. With the mild temperatures in store for this week, I hope you and the girls get lots of fun time outside.