Today, I returned to the Cancer Center for the first time since October for a followup visit, which consisted of blood work, CT scan, and a chat with the doctor. My blood work is good, CT scan is clean, and my oncologist is pregnant. That’s the news of today.
And in 3 months, I will return and repeat, with a different oncologist.
And then 3 months later.
And 3 months after that. And it will be the same thing next year. And the year after that.
You get the picture.
Back in 2009, I wrote on this same blog:
“This is my 13th year of L.W.C. (Life With Cancer). I am officially cured of the Hodgkins Disease that I was diagnosed with in February 1996, when I was 22 years old. I call it LWC because, once you have cancer, it never leaves your life.”
Life With Cancer. Many people have been excited that I was ‘all done’ (their words) with treatments. Yes, that is functionally true. And my scans are clear. True. But let me tell you, I don’t live a day where having cancer does not affect my life, either because it has forged some amazing friendships, because it slowed me down physically and cognitively, or because it gives me pause every day in thinking about the future. We just went through a year of question marks and uncertainty, and I don’t feel like that has left my life. While I have slowly started to make plans for things later this year, like riding the Pan Mass Challenge (donate at http://www.pmc.org/as0171) in August, I am very tentative about confirming anything that happens after April 16th, when my next scan is. Who knows what might happen on that day? This is one example of what living with cancer is like.
My body has twice shown that it is incapable of suppressing the development of Hodgkins lymphoma cells. The odds of it happening once were slim. Then a second time after 15 years, that was very rare. Who knows what can happen next?
Frankly, it is not likely that my next scan with show anything. But with each followup, the farther away from chemo I am, the greater the chance a bell for round 3 rings.
Do I think that I will have to fight round 3? No.
Will I if it happens? Yes.
Do I live my life with it in the back of my mind every day that there is the slightest of possibilities that it could happen? Yes.
But the fact of the matter is that I wake up every morning and have to live my life. A life with cancer. But also a life with Michele and Shannon, and, happily, friends and family. And those, dear reader, are my thoughts today, about life with cancer.
[side note: talk about life with cancer – it was 16 years ago this week when I first went to see a doctor about a lump in my neck. That lump was originally diagnosed as possibly being caused by an ear infection. After that turned out not to be true, I had a surgery and received my diagnosis of Hodgkins. But this journey, the life with cancer, started on a grey day in Rochester, NY 16 years ago.]