Friday, December 5, 2008

Life Sometimes Intervenes, Part 2: Autism Diagnosis vs. Cancer Diagnosis

Well, dear readers, I had hoped for an easier answer, but I learned this week I have early stage breast cancer. The prognosis seems good, it looks like we have caught it early, but we just started this journey. I have wonderful medical care and am hoping for the best. But blogging may have to take a back seat for a little while.

However, I have been struck by the great difference in receiving a cancer diagnosis and receiving an autism diagnosis. Others have observed this before, I believe, but I guess seeing is believing.

I have friends whose children were diagnosed with autism about 10 years ago. First of all, they had a hard time even getting an accurate diagnosis. Then when they did, the clinician said something like, "there is no cure, look into special needs estate planning, there is nothing you can do." In our case, just 4 years ago, we were told, "there is no cure but at least you caught it early and there is a lot you can do, here's a list, do your research and we'll help you as best we can, but be forewarned, insurance probably won't cover any treatment." The Internet and a network of fellow warrior parents became our best friends. The news of our son's autism diagnosis was met with deafening silence from many of our real-life friends. Our family were of great help and support, but many of our friends at the time--well, I guess they just didn't know what to say or do. Now, Autism Speaks, love them or hate them, has raised awareness to the point I hope less families feel as alone as in the past.

Contrast this to my cancer diagnosis this week. What a difference! I have rarely felt so supported by the medical community. The protocol is clear, even at the start of my journey, I have been given an overwhelming amount of information. Insurance covers everything. I have been deluged with well-wishes by everyone I know, even acquaintances.

My hope is that one day an autism diagnosis will be greeted by the clear protocol and outpouring of love I have received with my cancer diagnosis.

On a personal level, I am most worried about how this will affect the Prince's Christmas. He finally "gets" Christmas and Santa. I selfishly want to enjoy seeing the thrill he will have this year and don't want to spoil it for him. I worry that all the things I usually do, not even during Christmas but every day, I may not be able to do for a little while. I hate that. I might not be able to make Christmas cookies this year, much less GFCF dinner on a regular basis. I have done a lot ahead, so that is good. We already put up out Christmas tree. Santa has done quite a bit of online shopping in anticipation. Maybe Santa can bring me a little extra endurance and energy this Christmas and New Year's.

The Professor and I have the attitude that we stood up to autism with pretty good success, we can stand up to cancer too. And it seems we have more ammunition in our corner. I just wish I could transfer some of that ammunition to those with a new autism diagnoses.

When I feel well, I will try to write. I love Christmas. It is one of my favorite times of the year. Right now, pre-treatment, I feel fine but am so busy with the doctors. But I just felt such a bond with you all, I wanted you to know I am not abandoning you, especially the new parents just starting the GFCF diet. You can do it. I can do this too.


Maddy said...

I'm too shocked by the news of your diagnoses to write anything sensible. Best wishes

alison said...

I am so sorry about your diagnosis. I am wishing you well as I am sure many other bloggers will be too. Good luck.

ghkcole said...

You are an inspiration. Please be well soon.

minivan driving soccermom said...

I am so sorry for what you're going threw. If it makes you feel any better, my 83 year old Grandmother was recently diagnosed w/ breast cancer also. They too caught it very early, and she had one small outpatient surgery, they removed all the cancer and she is done, she kicked breast cancers ass! And I know you will too (((HUGS)))

Betsy said...

I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I am so thankful that they caught it early. I will be praying for you and your family.


Erin said...

You are soooooo positive... you have such an amazing spirit and strong persona... I know (and pray) you will be OK. Take care of yourself... ask for help... and stay strong.

One Sick Mother said...

I know if anyone can come out of this smelling of roses, rather than vomit, you can.

Know that a lot of people are behind you, rooting for you. That cancer doesn't stand a chance.


PG said...

Hoping that you recover fast and that despite everything you have a wonderful christmas!
You are surely an inspiration for many of us!
Wishing you lots of health, strength and energy and best wishes for you and your family.

GFCF Mommy said...

Thank you so much everyone for your kind words. It means more than you realize right now and helps me stay positive.

Dear minivan driving soccermom and OSM,

I am going to give that cancer a run for its money too! I've started listening to the Rocky Theme to get psyched for the fight! LOL!

I have a few more tests this week. I may have surgery at the end of next week or the following week. Depends on the test results.

Keep the positive vibes coming my way!

Hetha said...

I'm not sure if I've commented here before or not, as I'm new to this world and have bookmarked a zillion blogs. So even though I don't "know" you, I will certainly keep you in my prayers. I'm so glad you caught it early. Best wishes to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an incredible attitude you have. I admire your strength and courage. Best of luck through your journey and recovery.

Mamá Terapeuta said...

I'm shocked by th news, but you sound so possitive!

I dont know you so much, but I do know you understand the importance of what you eat. This week our 'natural' doctor gave us information from John Hopkins about treatments for cancer. They suggest diet instead of quimo and radiation. Cancer can't grow or live with out milk, red meat, sugar, salt and i believe caffeine.
There is plenny info on the web.

Anyway, you have a great attitude and that's the first thing! Best wishes.

J said...

oh Katherine, I am so sorry to hear. I will keep you in my thoughts. You have shared and taught us so much about this whole autism experience.

Mama Deb said...

I have not visited your blog in awhile and am truly sorry to hear the crappy news you've been dealt.
Wishing you health, peace, and some help along this new journey. Be well.

jACOB said...

i am 9 a son of a autistic sister

Adventures in Autism said...

Katherine you are amazing, and this particular blog is your best yet. Like many others have said it is an inspiration. It is interesting how you compare the diagnosis of Autism to that of breast cancer and how differently it is perceived. You have that vicious mommy fight alive and well inside of you. You can overcome anything.

Lots of Love, Maureen

tina said...

I happened upon your blog when searching for GFCF info. My 20 month old daughter has autism and I've been a blubbering idiot as of late. But, your humor, wit and grace have inspired me! I've been reading your blog like mad for only a few days but I am addicted to it! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and knowledge to perfect strangers lurking about, looking for hope. On another note, my mom is a 12 year breast cancer survivor and you WILL beat it!

Katoolus said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers. I'm sure you'll kick cancer's butt. Good luck with all your treatment.

Childlife said...

Oh, Katherine! I'm so sorry I've been such a sorry excuse for a blog buddy and haven't been by in a while -- I had no idea you were going through this!

You are one tough lady and I know you will get through this with the same grace in which you move through the rest of life's challenges. Know that you and your family are much in our prayers!