There Is No “All Clear” in Cancer

nasa-89125.jpg

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.

Too Busy

busy-underground

We live in a world where being busy can be so extreme that meeting all our commitments is literally impossible.

If only there were more hours in the day. If only our bodies didn’t need the restorative power of sleep. Yeah…

I used to think I was busy. I put my work obligations first because at that point in my life, when I was just starting out in my career, that was most important. Then I became a mom. I took it all in stride – I loved being a working mom and took pride in balancing it “all.”

It wasn’t until I received a complicated medical diagnosis that sucked up huge amounts of my time, energy, and well-being that I began to feel overwhelmed. I had no choice but to make changes in my life. I should probably make a lot more. Someday.

The fact is, we’re all busy. It’s the world we live in, combined in part with the expectations we hold for ourselves and the expectations of others.

Until we hold ourselves to a different standard, the cycle will perpetuate.

Tumors & Insomnia

sidebyside.jpg

Two binders sit on my shelf, side-by-side. One with the word “Tumor” emblazoned upon its spine, the other labeled “Emotional Tumor.”

The first binder details the tiny tumor that’s perched, quite literally, inside my head. It doesn’t bother me so much, this 1.4x 1.0x 2.7cm mass. It needs to be treated, but the treatment is fairly straightforward. In less than 30 days, it will be taken care of, with a 95% probability of never bothering me again. Sounds promising.

That is when you’re not lying awake anxious, wondering about the black hole that lies within the missing 5%.

In comparison, the headache in my second binder has no end in sight, is relatively unstable, and seems to multiply every attempt I make to move forward. That would be my divorce / custody binder I’m referring to.

It’s hard to say which stress outweighs the other. Usually it’s a tug-of-war fueled by which, in that particular moment, has the most pressing immediacy.

situation: battling insomnia that’s come back to rest in its familiar place

song: In the Long Run, The Staves

 

My Scar Story

scar screenshot.png

Living life with a visible scar is like wearing your secrets on the outside. It can be hard when the first thing others notice about you is a reminder of something you’d rather forget.

In a society where celebrities are nip-tucked, Botoxed up, and Photoshopped to perfection, I’ve most definitely felt pressure to be scar-free in order to be considered beautiful.

Click over to YourTango.com to read about my experience….