Just yesterday, I got a blood test result that was surprisingly not good. Not the immediate end of the world, but stress-worthy. I can’t say I didn’t panic a bit, definitely went to some dramatically dark thoughts – well, now we know how THIS story ends! – and raised my own blood pressure. It’s still up. I really do not like the pharmaceutical solution offered, but the doctor just sent in the prescription and that was it. Which made me think about how friends and family receive news of cancer, diabetes and other terrifying stuff. Wow, it just knocks you on your butt, doesn’t it? You were going along with some minor complaints, and now there’s THIS, something you can’t ignore. Suddenly – if you are like me – you feel all kinds of things and jump to dramatic conclusions, then dismiss them, then think you shouldn’t dismiss stuff… You want to grill the doctor for every detail and option, but you’ve only had a few minutes conversation. Once I pull myself together, I start researching. What are the alternatives to the nasty medications and their side-effects? How much can diet help? What else can I do to help myself? Can acupuncture have a supporting role? I need to settle into my own knowledge and ideas, but then I will be back to tell the doctor — actually, I’ll probably change doctor — how I think this should go. I want to get a handle on things and then re-test in a month. This made me think of a gentleman who came to a prostate cancer support group after getting news that his cancer was back. He was clearly shaken to the core. At the end of meeting, the other men in the group gathered around him and offered lots of information, told him he didn’t have to jump into chemo on Monday, recommended some things that had been working for them. The knowledge of options – not that I agreed with all their advice – was keeping them positive and literally perked up this man’s face and posture. So, while scary-looking numbers and crazy-sounding treatments DO cause a freak-out at first — go ahead and swear, cry, scream, etc. — using your intelligence, the experiences of others, and the internet to challenge standard answers and take charge of your options will eventually brace you. And me. Eventually.