Thursday, June 15, 2023

Beating Cancer and Battling Anxiety

Just a few weeks ago, I got my first "good" scan calling my body all clear from the melanoma I've been battling for 14 months.  We paused treatment a few months prior after my intestines decided they couldn't take it any more.  Then the clear scan meant that we can stop treatment as long as the rest of my scans stay clear.  

I'm feeling like a million bucks.  I forgot what it was like to only need 8 hours of sleep most nights, to have my stomach not ache and my GI tract be almost regular.  My memory and recall are coming back too after what seemed like forever of not remembering names, projects, and simple things.  

I've been toasted, taken out to dinner, and sent the most charming notes.  I'm ecstatic, really, I am.  This is such welcome news after the ups and downs of my treatment.  

I'm going to the gym again, starting to train for a half marathon again, eating better, and learning more about healthy breathing.  I set most of this aside during treatment to just get through it all.  

However, once you've had this diagnosis, you know that the fear continues.  The chances of recurrence  for this and all cancers are quite high.  Even if the chances of the cancer coming back were not significant, I'd still be scared, reticent, reluctant to fully celebrate. 

I'm not alone in this.  A coworker who beat testicular cancer twice said he has just, after 7 years of clear scans, FULLY started to live his life again.  Another amazing lady who beat brain cancer said it's been 12 years since she had her first clear scan and any odd headache still scares her.  

My brilliant and powerful sister recently feted her 2 year anniversary of clear scans, yet any unusual pain in her mid-section has her afraid that the monster has returned to feed again. 

My friend Michael lost his battle this year and so did my friend Teale.  Another co-worker has been told her cancer is incurable and must just be held at bay.  

With that in mind, PLEASE celebrate with me.  Hug your loved ones and live life to the fullest too, because every day is a gift.  

Also, please understand that the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty are still very fresh in my mind daily.  Based on all of my conversations with other survivors, those feelings just like those of grief NEVER fully go away.  Said feelings just come less often and become less debilitating over time.  So as I grieve the loss of my Teale and my Michael, I also hold my head high in spite of those feelings because they aren't here to do the same.