About a month ago, I started doing a bit of celebrating in my head, because it’s been five years since I was diagnosed with lymphoma, and four since I was told it was in remission.
From the beginning of the fight in November ‘09, I talked about having a big party once we’d kicked cancer’s big, fat, ugly, hairy ass. That party never happened, for lots of reasons; mostly, though, I didn’t feel like I was completely finished with cancer, y’know? The doctors promised frequent tests for at least two years—they’ve gone on for much longer—and I still have to go to the chemo room every few weeks to have my port flushed. Post-treatment, I never felt the time was right for a big party, or even a small one.
And while it appears that my body continues to be cancer-free, I’ve been told TWICE in the past four years that it wasn’t (lesson learned: scans answers lots of questions, but the facts are in the biopsy results). This has been more than a little bit frustrating, obviously, but it also reminds me that we’re never really DONE with cancer, are we? And I say “we” because regardless of whose body contains the cancer cells, we all fight, we all celebrate, we all mourn. (Except the assholes. They’re just assholes.)
This feeling that cancer has no end is something I never anticipated. During treatment, the goal is remission. It’s the key to everything related to treatment. Remission, remission, remission. People assume that “remission” means “life goes back to normal.” To physicians, though, “remission” actually means “no evidence of disease,” and although they encourage the patient to celebrate this milestone, they do it with the reminder that remission is often temporary.
This is the part that makes me want to say all the swears.
As much I don’t want to live in constant fear of my cancer coming back, I admit that it crosses my mind more than I should let it. I don’t let it interfere with my everyday stuff—that’s been a conscious decision—but when I think toward the future, the possibility of recurrence looms. Thinking that way makes me angry at myself. It makes me angry at my dad for passing his pessimistic traits to me, and it makes me angry at whoever he got his from. Stoopid ancestors! It just makes me angry.
I don’t want to be afraid, and I don’t want to be angry, but it is my nature to be both of those things. CUUUUUURSE MYYYY NAAAAATUUUURE!!
I’m doing my best to push aside fear and anger in favor of joy—it’s a new thing I’m trying this year (I hate the word “resolution,” but that’s exactly what it is). As I anticipate cancer tests coming up later this month, I want to think happy thoughts. Unhappy thoughts make me frowny and mean. Happy thoughts make me… um… happy. Hopeful, even. Happy and hopeful are good.
And if the tests in fact do say “cancer,” I shall fight that cancer. OK, first I’ll say all the swears and get drunk and throw shit, but I will eventually put on my combat boots (fuzzy slippers) and deal with it, like I did so successfully five years ago. Like WE did five years ago. And maybe instead of planning one BIG party, we can just party every time we get a chance? I like that idea.
Just, y’know, do me a favor and don’t ever get cancer, ok? It’s the suckiest thing that ever sucked and sometimes it has a super-sad ending and that sucks even more. Just… don’t. Thanks. :)
Also, feel free to adopt my resolution as your own. I wouldn’t mind being surrounded by joyful people. Just keep the snark. Snarky joy—it’s totally a thing.