There Is No “All Clear” in Cancer

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I got the results of my 6-month scan today. Everything is stable.

Stable. Meaning that my tumor is still there, looking the same as it did 182 days ago, and the other lesions that are not (yet) tumors still show up as, well, just lesions to be scanned again in another 6 months.

It’s a waiting game. Full of stress and the discomfort of living with the unknown.

“That’s amazing news, your tumor is stable,” friends and family say when I give them the update. “Yes, it’s the best news possible, given the circumstances,” I quip.

It is good. It could be so much worse. The report could read “metastasis” or “additional tumor.” That’s what happens in my nightmares. That’s what gives me anxiety, because it could happen, and at a rate much higher than people who aren’t predisposed.

You can’t really understand how it feels when the report comes back as “stable.” No one can understand, unless they have been through it. There is no “all clear” when it comes to tumors. It’s more like “You’re cleared for another 6 months!”

It sucks to live life in increments based on when your next scan is, so I try not to do that anymore. It took practice though. Just like lying in the scanner took practice to manage without popping a magic pill.

It is good news, but it doesn’t eradicate the worry. It is good news. But better would be if there were no other enhancing lesions, malformations, or spots that lit up the MRI at all. Because those represent my unknown. And people can say, “oh don’t worry.” But they don’t read the research like I have, they don’t hear from other patients in the similar situations, but farther down the path of this disease.

And so they say “don’t worry” because they don’t know what else to say. And I nod and let them.

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