A sinister business partnership? Or a conspiracy?

As I settle back into the swing of things, I know that not far on the horizon is my next round of checks.  For now though, I am still in an upbeat frame of mind following my break and the appointments are far enough ahead not to feel imminent.  So that means that Captain Paranoia is also on a bit of a break.  Although he may not be lurking on my shoulder at the moment, I know he is causing his mischief in many other lives.

With this slight distance I am feeling more rational than can happen at other times regarding the future.  A clear indicator is a glimpse at my web browsing history.  It is immediately obvious that I have not consulted Dr Google for a while.  In fact, not since Dr W laughed at the wirple, back in early July.

This is when I spot a rather interesting connection.  There appears to be some kind of business relationship between Dr Google and Captain P.  A rather sinister one at that.  And they both appear to benefit and feed on each other in this arrangement.

Does it sound familiar?  At the first sign of an ache or pain, appearance of a strange shape or bumpy area, development of a rash or spot, Capt P appears and starts whispering (or shouting) that Houston, we have a problem.  And what do we do?  Too often we run straight to Dr Google who is waiting, grinning malevolently in his 24/7 online consulting room with far too much information, much of it ill organised and not necessarily current.  He overwhelms us with graphic images and what appears to be terrifying confirmation of our worst fears.  Our minds freeze with another round of fears and worries.

We eventually log off.  Sleep is elusive, as the information from Dr Google churns around in our minds.  Capt P takes over another shift and cranks up his efforts to maintain a wearing and ongoing onslaught on our thoughts.

In this welcome space of clarity which I find myself in just now, it is abundantly clear that if Dr Google’s online Diagnostic Service was unavailable, then Capt P would not have such a great hold over us.  Similarly, if Capt P could be kept at bay, we would not be so compelled to consult Dr Google.  The challenge is then how to try and break this cast iron partnership and weaken the power which they wield over us.

In my view, having this knowledge is in itself power.

This week’s Twitter discussion focused on Post Treatment depression and there was a very lively and open sharing of the emotional fragility we have following a cancer diagnosis.  My own view is that while depression is very much a reality for many people post diagnosis, I feel that one thing we all have in common is what I would call a post diagnosis “frame of mind”.  This reflects the fact that we live life differently after diagnosis and we are generally very vulnerable to fear and anxiety.  We are far more prone to worry about our future.  The checks and regular monitoring are massively reassuring – but only if they show nothing worrisome.

This frame of mind is a fertile ground for the sinister partnership of Dr G and the Captain.

We do have tools at our disposal to stand up to the evil duo however.  In particular, we have each other in the online breast cancer community.  We understand each other and respect the harrowing worries that we encounter.  Many a time have I had my hand held across the divide.  We also have a number of reliable sources of internet information and we should ensure that we do not consult Dr Google indiscriminately.  We should turn up at the virtual waiting rooms where we know our consultation will be fair and credible, such as the Breast Cancer sites and not that terrifying Google images search engine!

So what do we have then?  We have an evil duo who are in all likelihood working in cahoots – Dr Google and Captain Paranoia.  They are supported by an arsenal of information and detail which we cannot begin to interpret without a very smart medical head.  To counteract this we have a wide reaching and sensitive community who “get it”, and understand our fears and anxieties.  We also have our “real life” Doctors – our oncologists and our surgeons for example.  They not only know their stuff, they know us, and mostly can guide us through the minefield of distressing and baffling details dropped in front of us.  We usually only see them at our checks and they are subjected to the collection of questions which we have been saving up in anticipation of our reunion with them.  Often we are waylaid by unexpected blood results of other questions and realise in the days following our appointment that we still have unanswered questions.  And Capt P just loves to latch on to these questions and twist them around in our minds.  He refers us directly to Dr Google……..

We need to try and break this cycle, fed by the Capt P and Dr G alliance.  I know that is far easier said than done.  Dr Google is far too accessible and Capt P ensures that his visitations are as distant as possible from our real life support.  We must therefore make a concerted effort to resist Dr Google.  Capt P will then be weakened in his efforts to derail our thinking.  We have helpful guidelines, such as the 2 week rule (if a pain, ache or suspicious bump lasts for 2 weeks it needs to be taken to a Doctor).  We have our online support.  Oh, did I already mention that?  I guess that out of the sinister partnership, Capt P could possibly be credited with having a modicum of use.  He keeps us alert.  It is critical for us to be aware of our bodies and any changes that could be significant.  But to go any further than that sees him as a trouble maker who needs to be kept in his place.

I hope that this exposure of this intimidating duo can prompt us to do one thing.  To enable us to take firm control of our situations and enable us to strike a balance of being vigilant, sensitive and proactive without being obsessive.

Knowledge is indeed power.  So listen here Dr Google and Captain P – you guys are  RUMBLED!!!

23 thoughts on “A sinister business partnership? Or a conspiracy?

  1. I think no matter what path we are on there is always Capt P waiting.. I decided after my diagnoses to avoid google.. the internet as its roll in answering questions, but when does it stop with Capt P? So I have found a new hobby which I can share with my youngest.. I can still use the internet to research, but not medical issues ;-D x

    • So true S – he is always there just waiting for a chance to jump. Your strategy of using the internet for research but keeping medical research off limits is great, and it sounds effective too. Really taking control. Thanks 🙂 P

    • Apparently that is his rank but I know he gets ideas above his station 😉 – let me know your tactics for remaining objective and keeping him on the other side of the door! 🙂 P

  2. Another terrific post with lots of great points Philippa! Yes indeed I do believe they are closely related and it requires great discipline on our own part not to let those pesky guys gain the upper hand!

    • Thanks M – it was a kind of strange realisation that came to me on my way back here from leave. The least I can do is expose their dodgy business 😉

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  4. I LOVE this post. Capt P and I re-kindled our flame during my recent ovarian scare, but I have always been VERY wary of Dr. Google. In some respects, I have been a put my head in the sand kind of girl because I’m afraid Dr. Google will get me so paranoid I stop breathing. Thanks for talking about this challenge and the post cancer “frame of mind” we all struggle with. Off to share this on the FBook page for A Fresh Chapter! Would love to skype after Labour Day about the Big Hairy Audacious Dream. I haven’t forgotten, just am trying to work really hard on my book before four houseguests arrive to flood my one bedroom apartment next Friday 🙂

    • Aw – thank you SO much Terri, and thanks for sharing on http://www.facebook.com/freshchapter?ref=ts 🙂 I love the image of a you and Capt P with a bit of a spark 😉 Sand is a good space for heads sometimes, a better space than “Google images”!!
      I am looking forward to our skype chat – there is no hurry, ideas take time to develop. Especially given that I keep falling asleep every time I try to have a Big Think 😉

      Enjoy your time with your house guests 🙂
      P x

  5. Really great post. As a caregiver, I experienced many similar fears especially waiting for test results to come in. Sometimes I even judged myself for it because, after all, it wasn’t me who had cancer…and shouldn’t I be keeping a straight head and supporting my late husband instead of freaking out?

    Working with a coach helped me to create tools to work with the thoughts, stay centered and also respect my feelings and reduce my stress level. It didn’t change the circumstances or the outcome but it did shift my experience and empower me. What is also empowering is to read about the authentic, honest experiences of others. Thank you for a truly honoring post. I’ve subscribed!

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment Tambre – it’s great to connect with you.

      It is really refreshing too, to hear your perspective as a carer and how much a cancer diagnosis impacts on a whole circle. And thank you for highlighting that although we can’t change what is happening to us, but empowerment can make such a difference to how we experience it.

      Thank you for subscribing – I’d better work hard on my next posts! Isn’t it amazing the difference it makes living in this incredible new connected world.
      P 🙂

  6. Your writing rings so true. Dr. Google isn’t trustworthy, and Captain P. is no Captain Krunch, not sweet nor fun. Anxiety and worry do plague us at every step. My most recent cancer scare is a case in point. The whole thing was related to prolonged stress, the cause of which I will reveal at a later date. But Captain P. persisted in telling me it wasn’t just stress. Thanks for your reflections.

    • Thanks Jan – and I am so GLAD that Capt P was proven wrong in your recent horrible scare, though what a painful path to get there, in every sense. As you say, it prolongs the stress which is so not good for us too, emotionally as well as physically. It is a strange time too, because I know when I had my worries before the last check, I didn’t want to share it online, or at least publicly on the blog which gives our fears that extra strength.
      I’m SO glad to hear that things are resolved with you and the pain gone. Gone COMPLETELY I very much hope

      • Yes, it is GONE COMPLETELY! Thanks for your hope and concern. I’m so touched by all the caring comments from the breast cancer blogosphere.

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