Five tips to beat the disease

A friend once new told me a story about an elderly couple: “Imagine, they died in one day! Just like in a fairy tale! He felt bad with his heart, she went to get a pill in another room, and there she felt sick. Doctors said they died at the same time – but none of them ever found out about the death of the other! Really, wonderful?” But looking the truth in the eye, you have to admit that it is so easy.

All of us are alive, which new means that even if we are still far from dying, all the current troubles (from colds to dismissal from work) will still happen to us. Personally, I was not very lucky with such troubles in my life: in 2010 I went to the doctors to treat a cold, and they decidedly returned me to the real world, announcing the diagnosis of “lymphoma” (cancer of the lymphatic system).

I’d rather have a cold. But four years of treatment without money and connections, first in Russia and then in the United States (where I left after Russian doctors said that there was nothing else to treat me), I was taught something. So I will try to share my experience with you. It will be great if you never need it. But what if you are still given a serious medical diagnosis?

  1. Don’t be in a hurry to rejoice

I once had severe abdominal pain. I couldn’t sleep. I agreed to voluntarily sign up for a gastroscopy! But doctors started with a banal ultrasound of the abdominal cavity, and the doctor of the diagnostic department proudly recorded in the map that clearly sees the polyp inside, described its size and even attached pictures. And when the doctor began to paint me with the benefits of microsurgery, the thought crept into my head: how is it, cut when only one study is done? Then I myself signed up for another clinic for exactly the same ultrasound. The study was conducted on the same day and no polyp was found – although I was very asked to look for it. The doctor abruptly changed the tactics, did not talk about any operations any more, and the pills in a week completely put me on my feet.

Another case. A friend was lying in the hospital, she had an ultrasound of the ovaries “for the company” while watching something else … Finally, they wrote a suspicion of cancer. Do you think she went to the oncologist with this case? Or at least a specialized center that can correctly diagnose cancer?.. No – she went to the bar, didn’t go out there for a week and didn’t tell anyone what was wrong with her. I have long been new tormented by the question – what is the point in these actions? Well, let cancer – so it can be treated, there are a lot of methods. And if there is no cancer – even in the bar is nicer to spoil the liver, double-checked and knowing that there is no cancer. Yes, in the end she did not have oncology. 

I only say this because the correct diagnosis is a great success. And from it you can immediately go to treatment. Only in order for you to have an accurate, reliable, competent diagnosis, you have to sweat. Do not think that if someone in a white robe said something, then he is more visible … And do not forget that two doctors have three opinions, and with a banal headache urologist will begin to treat you kidneys, nutritionist – stomach, and oncologist – cancer.

  1. Choosing a doctor – choose a diagnosis

No matter how terrible the diagnosis, you will have to find a doctor who understands this topic, is able to conduct a comprehensive diagnosis and whose thoughts and ideas will cause you respect and willingness to follow them. It is your duty as a patient – no one will fulfill it for you. We are used to looking for our people: when we need, for example, a hairdresser, we learn from friends where they go, where they do better, who has what experience … Then we deal with the same specialist and even, sometimes, we go to him if he moved. Now, a good doctor is even more complicated than a good hairdresser.

In general, you know that hospitals and departments in them are divided by specializations: infection, trauma, hematology, cardiology … So, the cardiologist’s opinion on foot injury has dubious value. He, of course, in the medical school heard something and, if not truant, knows, most likely, on the topic a little more than you … But than to fixate on his opinion, it is better to read a good book and meet friends, cheer yourself up. Universal doctors are either urino-patient or district therapists (let me forgive the latter – in terms of qualification they are about equal to the first).

I once after a bone marrow transplant I had a cold, was at home and called the precinct. To be honest – I needed a sick leave, I have already made a treatment for myself from the previous experience of being in the oncohematology department and agreed it with the pro doctors in this area over the phone. But I decided to make a little joke and answered all the questions of the precinct as an honest patient: fever, cough…

When he reached the “post-transplant state,” the doctor replied, “I don’t know what to do with you.” Then I offered him: “Write me a sick leave, and I will take these pills . and give an empty form for hospitalization by ambulance, I will fill it myself, if necessary.” After hearing all this, the doctor soared over the stool – such a burden of responsibility from his shoulders. I was just new surprised at the end: “And you also work?! I thought you were on disability…”

  1. It’s not just treatment that matters

I work all the time while I’m treating cancer. I had two bone marrow transplants (my own and donor cells), I was in intensive care and in a coma. For all four years I have not worked exactly one week – for a good reason: lying unconscious and everyone thought that I was about to die. When I was diagnosed, I looked at how much the treatment cost and told my girlfriend, “I’m going to have to find a couple more jobs.

” The fact is that the salary of astrophysics… not astronomical in size. But when I left for treatment in the U.S., I had three permanent jobs. Illness is unpleasant and clearly will not make your life easier. It will take both time and resources. But this is not a reason to throw out everything else, and even more so such an important thing as work. Work in a broad sense – not only the one on which pay a penny twice a month, work as a benefit to others. If you benefit people, you have every right to turn to them for help.

  1. You’re not in the desert

A lot of people, having received a diagnosis, close themselves and do not tell anyone about it. To me, it’s bliss. Worse only the situation, in which relatives learn from the doctor’s diagnosis and the whole team hide it from the patient (ay-ay, he will not endure such a nuisance!). I don’t even want to discuss the latter: these people want people to spend perhaps the last years or months without understanding what is happening,

in a sweet lie. That’s disgusting. Of course, the diagnosis is not a flag, not a merit and not a cause for pride. There is no new need to hang out or wave it (because to be honest, except for you, he is not really interested). But hide it? 

After I was declared incurable in Russia, I was invited to work by the director of the Urban Projects Foundation, who knew me only as a specialist in transport and urban environment. At the first interview, I honestly informed him that the doctors had set me a pre-lifespan of 1.5-2 years,

I needed periodic urgent hospitalizations, and therefore I could not undertake long-term projects and projects with very strict deadlines. I had no doubt about whether to talk about it or not. The director must plan, manage staff and projects… And I can’t let a good team of people down – I don’t have any reasons or rights to do so.

Of course, do not breed panic and in tears throw everyone on the chest after the next news. I had a week when the doctors constantly changed their readings to the exact opposite: “the morgue – everything is fine / morgue – everything is fine.” And I did not call loved ones after the next news (the phone is also worth money). But if someone asked, “Where are you and how?” – I honestly answered: in the hospital, doctors in a panic, in a couple of days will come tests and will be clearer.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t call for you to flaunt my personal life or to draw on stories of overcoming adversity. I’m for basic honesty. If you honestly tell people about yourself and what is in your life, then you can reasonably count on their kind attitude to you and maybe even help in a critical situation.

  1. Complex problems are solved together

At the moment when the situation with treatment became critical and it was necessary to change tactics, clinic and country. I was still an astrophysicist, with no connections or any fame. I had to find $150,000 very quickly just to keep me dead for a couple of months. This is a big task, but it just so happened that before that I solved other big problems

built a system of control of the spacecraft, prepared a strategy to reform the transport system of the millionth city. And I have always clearly understood that big tasks are solved not by singles, but by like-minded people. We know Gagarin and the queen, but few can remember the names of those who carried out the flight of man into space. But tens of new thousands of people worked on this project, the contribution of each of them was critical for a successful flight.


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