by Debbie Kerr
It’s not always easy to bounce back after something bad happens in your life… the death of a family member, a job loss, or a cancer diagnosis. Some events have a bigger impact on you than others. There are many variables that determine when and how quickly you bounce back…rebound.
This is the fourth in a series about the process of having tests and waiting for results to determine if you have cancer, if you have lost your No Evidence of Disease (NED) status, or if your existing cancer has changed in a way that indicates it may have spread. To keep things interesting (like cancer isn’t interesting enough), all the previous blog posts tie a step in the diagnosis process to a game as follows:
And now, the final step in the process of getting a diagnosis is playing Rebound.
How to Play
Rebound is like Shuffleboard, but the board itself is very different. As you can see in the picture, the board has a divider down the middle. To start the game, the player puts a finger on the weight and throws the weight with a quick slide-and-release motion. The weight must maintain contact with the board as it slides toward the elastics.
In a great physics moment (potential and kinetic energy), the weight hits the first elastic and transfers its energy to the elastic. From there, the elastic transfers that energy back to the weight so that it will slide over and hit the second elastic. The second elastic then takes the energy from the weight and causes the weight to rebound forward so that it slides toward the end of the board. The closer the weight gets to the end of the board, the higher the number of points awarded.
The Key to the Game
The elastics in Rebound are the key to everything. Each weight has to hit both elastics to make it to the other end of the board. The elastics determine how hard someone needs to slide the weight and the angle the weights must hit the elastics to end up in the right spot.
Like the elastics, you are the key to everything during your cancer experience. From the time of your diagnosis to the end of our treatments (and actually well after that), only you can determine how much and how fast you rebound from whatever life throws your way. There is no right or wrong response. For example, immediately after a cancer diagnosis, one woman might sit in silence, another might cry, yet another might tell a joke to diffuse the situation.
Many factors can affect how you respond to bad news and, as you and your situations change, those reactions can change over time. Even an elastic loses its ability to rebound under certain circumstances, for example, the impact of the hits, the frequency of the hits, and the period over which the hits have taken place.
If this is your first experience with cancer, your initial response to a cancer diagnosis might surprise you. If your reaction is very strong (for example, being angry and shouting “Why me?”), it would be like someone (life) in Rebound throwing a weight (cancer) toward you (the elastics) at a speed you have never experienced before. The impact is so hard that you don’t really have time to react. The weight just bounces off you at the same speed that it hit you. The weight goes down the board so fast that it becomes airborne. I’ve actually done that in a game of Rebound.
In life, as in the game, you need some time to think so that you understand your initial reaction and make adjustments. It’s something that you have to do so that you have the energy to rebound from everything that is thrown at you whether if be surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or potential side effects to any medications that you take long-term. You may have to try and rebound from the reactions to your cancer diagnosis and treatments.
If you completed cancer treatments at least once, the impact of having tests again (especially if they are routine) will have an impact, but it might not be at the same intensity as the first time you had the tests. The impact of having a recurrence or that your current cancer has spread, might have the same impact as your initial diagnosis. It depends on you and your current situation.
If this is your first and only experience with cancer, you may find that the memory fades over time, even if the fear of recurrence never goes away completely. While the thought lingers in the back of your mind, the appearance of any symptom (even if it may not be cancer specific) will bring all the old fears to the surface. Suddenly, that faded memory becomes a reality again.
If you have been hit with a cancer diagnosis, only to finish treatments and then be hit by another cancer diagnosis in a very short period of time, the fact that there has been a recurrence in a very short period of time, can have a profound effect on how much and how fast you rebound.
Period of Play
If you have owned Rebound for a long time, the quality of the elastics may deteriorate over time regardless of the number and strength of the hits. In fact, it could fall apart in your hands or break when a weight hits it. There might be nothing left in the elastic to keep the weight moving forward.
For example, if you have been dealing with cancer for many years, you might be tired of playing the game. You might feel like you can’t rebound after a certain point. You may not have the energy to keep pushing the weight off you because you don’t feel like you are making any progress.
For some of you, this may be a temporary feeling, where you feel rejuvenated again (like you are a brand new elastic) and continue to play the game. You could also be that you are too tired to play the game anymore. Maybe you feel like you have done everything you can to keep moving forward.
Again, there are no wrong feelings. You are the elastic and the centre of everything. You are in control.
My Personal Game
As I described in my other posts, I received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2011 and finished treatments the same year. A little over nine years later, a suspicion led me to contact my doctor and subsequent tests were order. There was some miscommunication (the game of Telephone). As I waited for the test results, I played Snakes/Chutes and Ladders as I experienced all the ups and downs of waiting for test results. I was called back for more tests, sort of like playing with a race car set, where there are many things that are the same as your car goes around the track, but there are some slight twists to keep it interesting. Once again, I played Snakes/Chutes and Ladders as I waited for my results again. And this is where I left you in my last post.
When I did get my results, it was to tell me that there were no results. The sample (and I use the term loosely) from the core biopsy, didn’t really contain a sample that could be used to determine definitively whether or not I have cancer.
The belief is that I had a cyst and nothing more. It had ruptured during the biopsy and there were no other signs that it was cancerous. My friends (even the ones who have had cancer) have told me to take it as a win. I really have no choice right now. No one will order any additional tests (and I have asked for a second opinion) and all the doctors seem to believe that everything is okay.
As a safety measure, I will have an ultrasound in six months to see if there are signs that I should be concerned about cancer again.
Fortunately, the impact and frequency of the hits to me have been nothing that prevents me from rebounding again. My elastic is still fairly flexible, although I can’t say the same for the rest of me.
Over 30-years of writing experience, about 10 years as a cancer survivor, and a lifetime purveyor of wit and laughter.
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