One week in early April I considered myself healthy and happy, a busy Family physician with a legislator husband and an adult daughter working in Boise. After 5 days of leg swelling followed by a doctor's visit and several tests I became a patient with advanced ovarian cancer. Within another week I was in Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane having a 17 cm mass removed from my pelvis. Now I am recovering from the operation and anxious to move on to the next step.
There is an advantage to being both a physician and a patient. I understand the process, the expected order of events. Furthermore, I know and am friends with the doctors who will be taking care of me. Most of my patients faced with a similar diagnosis are not so lucky, the process is confusing and frightening, the physicians unfamiliar.
So my biggest adjustment has been becoming a cancer patient, being the one in the ultrasound or CT scan, the one in the waiting room and the one waiting for the doctor in the exam room. Or waiting for the nurse to call back with a response to my question.
And for the first time in 33 years I am not practicing medicine.