The reality is that once someone has had cancer, it my come back. The choice that I make daily is to live my life for today and not for “what ifs”. That doesn’t mean to say that the worry and the thought isn’t always with me. Three years later I can honestly say that I don’t think about it when I first wake up as I used to and certainly not as daily. That’s kind of nice. But never do I truly relax either. I’m in a constant vigilant mode. I still do physical checks. And every rash, headache, ache, pain, swelling, cough, etc., sends me to the depths of hell and back before I can get a grip on myself and have that conversation with myself about whether to really worry or not. It’s a challenge to sort these into “nothing to worry about” and “something to talk to the doctor about”. I fluctuate between wanting to know and not wanting to know. And then if I do report it to my doctor, as I did last week, the fear of the test results put me into a new hell. This is how cancer has changed my life. I don’t get to just complain about my aches and pains, I have to get tests.
This past week was beyond description. My freak-o-meter was off the charts. When I look back at the Don’t Panic post, I shake my head. It so does NOT reflect the actual panic I had. I have to also admit, that post was the only communication I gave anyone (other than Vince, of course) that something may be wrong. I guarantee you that my friends and family no longer read this blog the way they did before. It was a safe way to express myself and not worry anyone else.
When I got the “all clear” on Wednesday I sobbed (not just cried). How do I describe the thoughts and fears about chemotherapy, needles, fatigue, other side effects, and most importantly stage IV cancer? To go through it again? To wonder if I could do it again, if only to keep me going for a good while. Once was bad enough. To face my mortality this time knowing that there was an end and who knows how quickly. Remembering the long battle Tracy had. There aren’t any words that can cover the plethora of thoughts I had.
After I collected myself, I was able to share out loud the whole of the story with others. I kind of got shit from one friend. She told me that it wasn’t good to keep it all inside and that acknowledging my fears to a quiet, trusted source could be helpful to my overall anxiety to have someone calm around. I commented back that I would have had a lot of tears had I said it out loud. Her comeback? “Yours or mine?!?! Doesn’t matter. Tears dry up a lot faster than fear does.” Wow. I know good people.
I know that you can never truly know what I have gone through or what I go through now in my remission. I appreciate that everyone gives love and support.