With all the focus on COVID-19, it’s easy for people to think that’s all the medical profession is doing. However, there are medical procedures that are considered non-emergency, but are still essential to be done during this period.
This has been apparently clear for my family.
On March 26, my mom received a diagnosis that isn’t something you want to hear even at the best of times: stage-one uterine cancer.
She said this diagnosis wasn’t a surprise, and she wasn’t stressed about it at the time.
Uterine cancer symptoms can include bleeding and abdominal pain.
Luckily, the doctors didn’t, and still don’t, expect her to need additional treatment after a complete hysterectomy. No radiation or chemotherapy.
However, a hysterectomy is a surgery that requires an overnight stay at the hospital.
We got lucky.
My parents have seen the same doctor for as long as I can remember. As a child, we used to bake cookies the day before my mom had an appointment, so we could take them to the office, and the doctor had a box of small toys she would give us.
She was able to get my mom in with a good doctor, who took the situation seriously.
She had surgery on April 13. Due to COVID-19 and the increased restrictions at the hospital she went to, my dad wasn’t able to stay with her. He had to drop her off at the hospital and come back the next day to pick her up.
Medical staff called when she got out of surgery, and he was able to talk to her when she woke up.
Yet again, we were lucky. The procedure went well. Her lymph node was larger than the doctors expected, and her cancer actually turned out to be in stage two. However, they were able to remove everything.
The doctor, however, needed to argue with the hospital in order to do the procedure. He took a picture of what they found, which he told my mom he didn’t normally do. In this case, he did because it served as proof as to why the procedure was necessary.
I feel like I keep saying it, but we were lucky; he won that argument.
It’s impossible to know what could have happened if he hadn’t succeeded. Besides the mental stress of needing to wait, we don’t know what the cancer could have done during a waiting period.
How bad would things have been if she needed to wait a month? What about two months or longer?
No, this wasn’t an essential procedure. She wasn’t about to die from the cancer, but what if the wait meant that it grew to stage-four or spread into her lymph nodes?
It could have meant months of additional treatment after the hysterectomy, expensive treatments. When she already has a list of other medical issues, it’s not something we’d like to need.
Instead, she’s recovering at home — still in pain after the surgery, but doing better.
There’s nothing that can express the gratitude we feel to the doctors, who were willing to argue for the importance of this surgery and conduct it in the middle of a pandemic.
For now, all we can do is hope future monitoring will continue to yield positive results.
Michael Shine is a staff writer for the Daily American Republic and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org