shyness social anxiety know

Caught in a NET? Shyness, Social Anxiety and finding the right doctor

Finding a new doctor is like dating. We get to know who they are, what they believe and how they approach life. We want to make sure we are compatible and can spend a large chunk of our lives together. This doesn’t mean we are crossing professional boundaries, quite the opposite, this approach enables us to look deeper into who they are as a practitioner by learning about their professional accomplishments. While in their office we must believe they are listening to us, that we are safe under their care and they know enough to help. We need to make sure they are the best person for the job. Just like dating, we want to pair with this person for a long time, perhaps even the rest of our life, so it is important to make sure this doctor is the right choice.

How do I know if I have the right doctor for me? You must get to know yourself and discover what is important to you. You must set and enforce personal boundaries and become an unstoppable force.

I think I can take some time to get to know myself, but I’m not good with personal boundaries and I don’t think I could ever be an unstoppable force. How can I do this? Where do I even start? You start right now and every moment thereafter. Force of will is a tempered tool folded and pounded to perfection. Every day we have opportunities to become the better version of ourselves, seize those moments and move forward.

There was a time in my life when I was shy, I had a hard time talking or standing up to others. If I had to walk my NET cancer journey when I was shy, this would have been impossible. But don’t fret, just because you are shy now, doesn’t mean you will always be.

Shyness and Social Anxiety

Shyness, it sucks.  That’s how I would describe it in three words. People are often surprised when I tell them I used to be very shy.  Sometimes they ask how I overcame it.  Well here is the first step of my fancy story.

In my mid-twenties, just after my mother had passed I was at a local dinner sitting with a couple friends waiting for our food.  A few booths over was a group of young ladies, one in particular caught my eye, I was entranced by her beauty and I wanted to meet her.  Unfortunately, I was frozen in fear and glued to my seat.  “What is going on?” I thought to myself. I couldn’t muster a reason why I felt this, why I was so afraid? If she was so intimidating why would I be attracted to her?

After several moments of being teased by my friends for not approaching her, I rose from my seat and walked to her table.  My hands were shaking, and my heart was pounding in my chest.  When I opened my mouth to speak, all my charm fled, and I found myself completely unable to articulate my words.  I stood there at the end of the table for several moments, I could feel their judgement piercing my soul.  In a burst of what little confidence I had, I tried to introduce myself to her, a moment passed, and they were all quiet so I walked back to my seat.

I could hear them talking about me, describing how my hands were shaking, and how weird I seemed. As I sat there eating my meal, I reflected over the moment, and I came to the conclusion that I must have appeared completely insane.

At first, I saw this as a failure, but then I realized it was a success.   I was unable to bridge my introduction into a conversation, but I was able to overcome the fear of talking to her.  I set out to do something, and I did it.  It was from this I was able to build my confidence.  I spent some time thinking about how I could eliminate my social anxiety, and over several years of pushing myself I was able to become the social butterfly I am today.

Overcoming anything requires force of will, but we are simply unable to eliminate our hardships in one fell swoop.  We must dedicate ourselves to a purpose and stick to it.  My social anxiety didn’t disappear in this moment. I had to work on it daily.  One of the first methods I used to fight my shyness was to smile and say hello to every person I saw.  When they didn’t smile back or say hello, I copped by saying to myself they were the ones missing out.

If you are a person like myself who loves people and wants to have as many great friendships as you can, then challenge yourself, talk to others. Eventually you will realize there is nothing to fear.  Most likely the person you want to talk to was wants to speak to you as well.

How does this help me with talking to my doctor and learning if they are right for me? In the beginning it may be difficult to directly talk to your doctor, but each time you stand your ground the better your footing becomes. Talking to a stranger can be daunting and by all accounts your doctor is a stranger. To complicate matters more we tend to deify their standing leading to a vast power differential. If you start making small changes in your life, these baby steps will improve your force of will and the effectiveness of your medical care. Be strong, know you’re amazing and make the most of your moments.


Discovering Hope

Shawn White Blog

Caught in a Net? 4

NCAN

Caught in a NET? You have 26 seconds to talk to your doctor

What do you mean by 26 seconds? I thought the appointment was fifteen minutes! Think back to the time you’ve spent in a doctor’s office. Once they walk you through the door to the sterile quiet office the nurse asks you the standard questions and tip taps her fingers against the key board. Then after some time the doctor enters, a few pleasantries are shared and then they ask you “So whats going on?”

This is your time to explain you condition. Since you have a maximum of 26 seconds you must have your ducks in order. If you don’t you might be leaving with regretful feelings, so make your seconds count. As human creatures our attention span is only so long, to make the most of these moments, be prepared and stick to facts.

To make these seconds more valuable make sure you write the doctor an email explaining your situation. If you would like more information on what to include in this email, click here.  You should also write up a worksheet to guide you in the meeting. On this sheet have a bullet list of the important questions you want to ask. You will also want to bring a copy of this email in case your doctor has not read it yet.

How do I prepare for these 26 seconds?

Go over your medical history and records to find the information you believe is most important and write them down.

Document the signs and symptoms you’ve experienced, if you have enough time before your doctor’s appointment create a log of these conditions to determine patterns. Try to figure out if any of your lifestyle choices are contributing to your health issues.

Create a worksheet with bullet points detailing the most important aspects of your condition.

Rehearse with friends and family to see if your message is coming across correctly. Get out your smart phone and record yourself talking to see if you can see how to improve your communication skills.


Discovering Hope

Caught in a Net?  5

Caught in a Net? 3 

NCAN

Caught in a NET? How do I find a doctor?

There are no skeleton keys in cancer. Our journey isn’t a console game, we can’t enter a cheat code to speed through a stage and beat a boss. Instead we need a variety of keys to meet our needs. We must build and lead an all-star multidisciplinary team. How do I build this team? Identifying what we need is a big step, now it’s time to find the right people to fill those roles. Here are some useful techniques to ensure you land in the right place after your multidisciplinary leap.

If you have Neuroendocrine cancer, you must have a NET specialist.

If you don’t have one, I strongly suggest you contact your local NCAN chapter for support or visit the NCAN website for assistance. After you’ve contacted NCAN and have a few doctors in mind, how do you determine if they are right for you?

Selecting a doctor can be a troubling experience, where do we even start?

Our road is dark, so here are some tools to light your path, the last thing you want is to be blind, being led by the blind.

How do I choose my doctor?

People are unique and amazing, we all have special skills setting us apart from everyone else. Doctors are people and its important to remember that. They have personalities and approaches to life that may be different than yours. To know whether a doctor is right for you, you must know what you need and who you are.

Step 1

Know your own personality: Take some time to get to know yourself. What is important to you, how do you communicate, how do you like to be spoken to? Are you shy, is it easy to share, how easily are you intimidated? Look at the company you keep, what kind of people do you surround yourself with and what are their personality types?

Know what you want: What are your expectations? Are you looking for someone to run the show for you or share in the decision making? How much information are you looking for, do you want the minimum to get by or an in-depth understanding of your disease?

 

Step 2

Not all doctors are the same. It is important to have a doctor compatible with your personality, religious beliefs and ethics. Our health care providers are people, remember that, to receive quality care we need to feel like our needs are being met. If your doctor doesn’t understand your values, they will never understand what you need.

You should also be concerned with their background. What have they accomplished? What is their level of knowledge, what kind of training and experience have they had? Look online to see what they have written, get to know who they are through their literature.

Talk to people who have seen them a few times. Join your local NCAN support chapter and ask its members about the doctors they use. First hand information is a great place to start, but it should not be the deciding factor on which doctor you choose. Reputation doesn’t mean skill. Anecdotal evidence will lead you back down a dark path, it’s a pitfall of the blind leading the blind.

 

Step 3

Now we have made it this far its time to merge the results of step 1 and 2. When you see your doctor open your mind and listen, have your thoughts organized and make short concise statements. The goal is to optimize the communication between you and your doctor. Consider recording what you have to say and listening to it before your appointment.

You are not obligated to stay with this doctor. If you feel uncomfortable or leave not understanding something, it is ok to find someone else. If you choose them to be your doctor you should never feel obligated to be loyal or faithful to them. If you are ever unsatisfied with your doctor, get a second, third or forth opinion.

Once you have found the doctor you trust, stick with them and continually work to make the most of your conversations.


Caught in a Net? 1

Caught in a Net? 3

Discovering Hope

NCAN

Shawn White

 

Who is Shawn White?

Hello, my name is Shawn White. I have cancer. I have been shaped by a series of beautifully horrific experiences. I traded my right lung for wisdom and endured chemotherapy for insight.

When I was in my twenties I watched my mother die of pancreatic cancer. She refused surgery and chemotherapy, living her final days by her terms. Her last wish was for the whole family to go on a cruise, and so we went. It was a hauntingly loving experience, one I will reflect on forever. My mother is my role model for personal advocacy. She had the force of will to face anything, even a terrible inevitable death. Her road was bleak and yet she never lost Hope, she continued to dream and love and embrace the light of light.

I have been given many gifts, cancer has been the greatest. It gave me purpose and direction. It set me on a journey where I fell into many holes and tripped over many rocks. Through my journey, I have learned to navigate the path and now I illuminate the road for others, to help them see their obstacles before they face them.

I have discovered personal advocacy.

Now I am helping others discover it as well.

 

Please Subscribe to the ShawnWhiteBlog Podacst!

moments

Moments – Reflections

Moments

moments

I committed myself to CenterPoint Hospital and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.  It wasn’t the best of moments, but it glowed with my purpose, the purpose of personal advocacy.  Personal Advocacy transcends the body and the mind, it encompasses both perfection and harmony.  If we want to fight for our health we must fight for our mind.

My journey will be time stamped by my birthday on Monday, May the eighth.  This has been the hardest year of my life.  It dwarfs every experience, every hardship, every moment that came before it.  I’ve never experienced the plethora of experiences as I have this year.  From a poorly constructed village, to the burnt-out husk, I rose from the ashes as a phoenix.

This year I’ve learned so much in exchange for so much.

There is no way anyone could predict the person I would become by this coming birthday.

My journey began coughing up blood at urgent care.  My friend told me to go to the hospital, it is from this moment that my cancer journey started.  From there I would see a pulmonologist, then a thoracic surgeon, have my lung removed and move onto chemotherapy.  I would be abused by a caretaker, lose a close friend, begin a personal advocacy quest, couple with a wonderful woman, share in terrible heart break and attempt suicide.  At the end of all this I’d rise as a phoenix from the ashes becoming a new man with an old spirit.

I regret nothing, I blame no one and I cherish every moment.  There were moments of terror and others of incredible love, all of them are important to me.  I am the man I am today because of these events, though I endured pain beyond my wildest imagination I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

Links

Damaged – Reflections

Sick – A New Universe of Cancer

Sick

Sick

Today I intended to have my scan but last night I felt terribly sick.  I hadn’t thrown up that much since chemo days.  I was up all night, so once the hour was close to my appointment I attempted to get a ride to the scan.  It would have been irresponsible to drive in my fatigued state.

Luckily the mixture hadn’t been created and I was able to reschedule.  I don’t know what had me so sick, I am not nauseated now, not since this morning. Maybe it was food poisoning?  The flu? Perhaps it was stress?  It could have been any number of things I suppose.

I’ve been focusing on stressful things as of late.  Maybe this is a sign that I need to change gears and add more levity to my routine.

Projects

I’ve been researching oncology massage, I am still very early in this process. By profession I’m a massage therapist, I love helping people.  Massage therapy when performed by a trained therapist can have instant and positive rewards.  It is one of the few things in life that has this ability.  So many other things in life that provide instant gratification isn’t healthy.

I mentioned this before, currently I am developing a booklet focused on self advocacy for patients.  Right now I am searching for others who’d like to be a part of this project, my goal is to create material for people who’ve been recently diagnosed.  I want it to be something a patient could refer to at any phase of their journey.

If you are reading my blog and have any questions about it feel free to post a comment and we can discuss further.

If you have enjoyed this post and would like to read more about my journey through cancer feel free to click on this link.

Power Advocacy Podcast

Power

Power Advocacy

This marks the first episode of my Power Advocacy podcast.  My goal is to illuminate the path for those who seek to navigate the treacherous road of cancer.  I want to help you find the way, to guide you through turbulent waters into the soft, soothing sea.  I hope that these words will give you the power to reach for self advocacy, to taste independence and to become the master of your fate.

Dreams and Passions

It is important to have dreams and passions. They are the fuel your heart uses to empower your mind to achieve great things.  The misery of my cancer journey has made me a powerful man.  I want to teach you how to become a powerful person.  Come join me on this journey, lets make the cancer road a less horrific path.

 Goals

I am…

  • …in the process of developing a self advocacy booklet.  This illustrated source book will provide the tools you need to become your own advocate.
  • …looking for cancer organizations who would be interested in spreading cancer awareness and patient advocacy.
  • …working on finding resources that will make research easier on current and future cancer patients.  The internet provides a wealth of information, but not all of us are rich enough to know where we can find it.
  • …writing an autobiography that focuses on my journey through cancer and the tools I used to navigate its treacherous waters.
  • …searching for ways to bring greater awareness to my own cancer (NET/Carcinoid), so others my reclaim their lives and live life to its fullest.

If you would like to read more about my journey into self advocacy feel free to click on this loving link.

 

cold air

Cold Air of Cancer

Every choice we make has a price, from the softest simplest decisions to actions of incredible magnitude. When it comes to cancer the prices are inflated, no matter what we do, we will feel a great amount of agony. Although we can’t escape the agony we can influence how much pain we are willing to pay to live. If you have never faced the big decisions of life and death, treatment or no treatment these concepts are truly impossible to understand. You might be able to fantasize about what you would or wouldn’t do, but that’s all they are, fantasies.  I hope you never have to face the cold air of cancer to discover what you would actually do.

Lets dial it back a notch and imagine a simpler, easier place. Imagine laying on your comfortable bed, as you stretch and sprawl out you hear a soft pop.  Now there is some slack in the fitted sheet beneath you because its has come loose from the corner.  You lay there for a moment, you could get up and remake the bed and sure it might make the experience more comfortable, but you are going to lose the comfort you currently have. If it is a chilly morning you are guaranteed to experience the cold air outside your comfortable cocoon. In a lot of ways this is how cancer is.  It sucks that the bed is slowly unraveling. However, if you try and fix it, you are guaranteed to lose something you currently have.

I love the warmth of my bed in the morning, feeling those soft clean linens around my body feels fantastic. Poking my  foot into the cold air, then slowly sliding it under the warm blanket is such a magical sensation. This comparison reminds me of the first day I started coughing up blood. I was nestled in my bed, comfortably relaxing within my blanket burrito. The comfort slowly slipped away as I started coughing and hacking. Though I knew something bad was happening, I dreaded to see exactly what. My reluctance to reach into the cold air outside my cocoon has paralleled many terrifying moments of my cancer journey.  There is peace not knowing. However there is horror in it too.  Eventually a time comes when we are forced to face our misfortune and endure the cold air of our cancer.

When the time comes for you consider moving from your perfect pocket of warmth, ask yourself a few questions. What is the goal, what will you gain from this, what will it cost and will it be worth the sacrifice? In the journey of cancer we all have to a price to pay, that price isn’t in money, it is in pain. How much pain are you willing to pay to live?

When we get up to fix the sheets it comes with a fair amount of discomfort. We have to give some to get some. With cancer it is much harsher, you have to give a lot to maybe get a lot. It is a gamble, the bed you make might not be the one you want to sleep in. Whatever you decide it is your choice, no one else can or should make it for you. When everything is said and done, you suffer with the consequences of your action or inaction. Whichever decision you make it comes with a hefty price, and when it comes to cancer there are no small prices to pay.

The cold air can haunt your dreams

Years ago when I first wrote this it was after having a nightmare.  My sleepy time tunes should have been terrific, instead they were terrifying.  My night time slumber land was wracked with terrible feels and dream sights.

The dark dream was set in my home. A terrible rain roared above, like a waterfall thick droplets soaked my roof. There was so much water the house couldn’t keep up and so it began to pour into the attic and drip through the ceiling.  The floor was covered in water and my basement was flooding.  Everything was falling apart. No matter how much I worked to save my house it continued to fill.

I can remember distinctly feeling like no matter what I did, no matter what changes I made, the effects of the water would remain.  There were moments in the dream when I was outside my house looking inside. I was both inside and outside at the same time. My outside-self watched as I fought the torrential downpour as it obliterated my home. As I watched I considered my options, I could let the rain do its thing and then reenter the home like nothing happened, or I could cut out the bad parts and treat the remaining wood with chemicals.

I was afraid of cutting it up and spraying it with chemicals, because I wasn’t sure if I could handle that stress. Could I walk away from the home? Maybe instead I could just do nothing and let nature take its course?  I knew with this kind of damage there was no way I could permanently fix it.  I didn’t want to leave my home, yet at the same time I didn’t want to continuously struggle to fix it.  Its a daunting task, especially when its destined to be destroyed.  My home would be uncomfortable to live in with the warped floors and wet ceilings, but that life would be better than to have it cut up and gutted.

Sometimes our dreams process our fears and thoughts.

Our dreams grant us the opportunity to explore our world in another way. Its a time when we can see our life with the insight of our sleepy time eye. This nightmare was a reflection of the cold air outside of my blanket. I had just completed chemotherapy, the harm it had done was horrible and I was afraid of enduring it again.

The symbols in the dream were obvious, even within the first few minutes of waking up I knew what they represented. The water was the cancer and my home was my body.  The dream was a conversation with myself, a dialogue between the deepest depths of my inside zones and the outer layers of my personality. It was an internal conversation and contract with myself to never again endure the horror of chemotherapy.

Make the right decisions for you and only you

It all comes down to making the right decisions for you. We all have to decide how much we are willing to endure. At what point are you done dealing with the hell of hardship? Is there a point when you call it quits and when you reach that point, what will you do?

No matter what you decide, select your treatment with considerable thought.  How you will feel afterwards.  What are you giving up to live, how much life do you need to have the experiences you want, and who’s wants are you following?

Shawn White Blog

Living With Cancer

NCAN