lifestyle

Doctor Google: When every possible symptom is cancer.

This post is sponsored by Dr Marie.

By BERN MORLEY

I knew it was there, I was just choosing to ignore it.

The lump I mean.

See two things happened that made me stop avoiding it. Firstly, my hipbone started to regularly burn and secondly, over coffee, my girlfriend told me that a friend of a friend had had EXACTLY the same symptoms and it had turned out to be aggressive breast cancer. I’d already done a fine job of believing EXACTLY that’s what it was without her blunt appraisal of my situation, yet circumstances at the time were making me the world’s finest avoider.

Being great in a crisis, I had just been dealing with my mother’s rapid decline and eventual death from cancer. It was fast, horrific and scary and even though I felt the lump about 1 month into her diagnosis, I wasn’t ready or able to deal with more bad news. Not then and certainly not now. I was still too sad. It could wait. So I put it off. And off. And off.  Until eventually I had the coffee with my friend.

And that day, the day of the coffee and the burning hip, I went on home and sat down in front of my laptop and tentatively opened it up.  Now here’s a tip, unless you want to scare the absolute bejesus out of yourself, do not, I repeat, do not Google the words “Lump in breast” and “burning hip bone” at the same time because the following will happen:

You will convince yourself that at best, you are thundering towards early menopause and at worst, have breast cancer and are probably going to die of secondary bone cancer.

So immediately I made an appointment with my doctor right? Right? WRONG. Oh no, I couldn’t handle the truth right then because let’s face it, that would make it real. And I couldn’t handle real. Not that day. If only I thought to myself, I could find an alternative, non-threatening diagnosis for my many and obvious symptoms, I could just go about my business and forget about this whole sorry situation. Maybe I just needed some multivitamins?

So I decided to investigate a little more and with that, each night I’d go a little further into the Dr Google rabbit hole clicking from one damning link to the next. And in turn, each night I’d go to bed a little more frightened than the one before.

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Until that is, I woke up one day I and realised it was inevitable. I was almost resigned to my fate by this stage. I had started to cry quietly in the shower about the momentous occasions I was going to miss in my children’s lives. Yet I now needed to know for sure, I could no longer live with the inner turmoil. I was, after weeks of speculation, ready to see the doctor and officially be handed my fate.

I walked into the Doctor’s office with a heavy heart and promptly burst into tears when *I* told *her* that Google had told *me* that I had breast cancer. She got up, shut the door properly behind me, handed me a tissue and told me to lie down on the bed. She then had a feel around and immediately told me to “stop stressing” it’s more than likely a fibroadenoma, benign, common and just to be sure, I should have an ultrasound.

The ultrasound turned into a biopsy. Which hurt, my wordy did it hurt, but to be told 3 days later it was all good and that “I just needed to keep an eye on it” was worth all the needles to the boob IN THE WORLD. And I know this sounds silly, but it felt like I had been handed a second chance at life. If I had just gone and gotten professional advice immediately, I could have saved myself a lot of stress and anguish. Dr Google, while useful in some circumstances, can never take the place of a qualified medical advice and reassurance.

Dr Marie is part of Marie Stopes International, a global not-for-profit organisation that is helping save millions of lives in developing countries each year. Dr Marie provides immediate access to caring and non-judgmental support and services on unplanned pregnancy, contraception and STIs. We also provide decision-based counselling and 24 hour aftercare.

Our accredited Dr Marie centres can be found across Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia. We’re pro your choice. Freecall 1800 003 707 (24 hours) or click here for more information.

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Have you ever Googled your symptoms to diagnose yourself?  

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