I didn’t realize it’s been almost 9 months since I’ve posted! I used to try to post weekly, not sure what became of that. When I posted more frequently and occasionally went a month between posts, people used to worry I was sick, that my cancer had come back.
I am doing well and am now 12 years cancer free, can you believe it? This year was a landmark, in a sense. For many years I had all of my cancer dates in my head…date of diagnosis, date of surgery, date I finished treatment. I always awaited the date of my surgery, as that is the date my surgeon told me I was initially cancer-free. So that date in my mind was always my annual survival date. I would never tell someone I was a five year survivor unless it was past my 5 year date..not even on the day before. Didn’t want to jinx myself?
Well, this year I actually forgot the date!! Was it May 12th or May 16th? Cancer for the first time wasn’t in the forefront of my thoughts. My daughter’s best friend sent me a congrats on your cancer anniversary text on the 16th…..turns out I had told her years ago and it happened to also be her birthday, so she remembered. But it was a relief not to be obsessed with the date anymore. But it took 12 years?
And while I don’t live in fear of my cancer returning anymore, cancer has still left me changed. I no longer feel safe in the way I did before cancer. After cancer we always feel a vulnerability that others don’t. Before cancer I accepted I would one day die, but actually facing that reality puts a different spin on that knowledge. We still always know the bottom can drop out of our lives at any time and in a sense almost anticipate it now? Getting older doesn’t help, either. Something about getting an often terminal disease that only affects one in 10 million kinda makes you feel the odds may not be in your favor?
But I can now plan for a future….for many years I could not plan life past the next scheduled CT scan (I don’t get scanned anymore). For years I could not make future plans or say the words “next year”. Now I can. For years I only had agency or PRN (as needed) jobs with no commitment….now I teach at a college and have commitments to students and a 401K. I’m in school for a degree I won’t obtain until 2015. I can’t plan 10 or 20 years into the future, but maybe five? Definitely progress!