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

Posted Apr 01 2009 2:52pm

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.
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