Remission. Everyone thinks it’s over, but it’s never really over. We all try to be strong, but we also all have our off days. Our cancer centers become our security blankets. We become attached to our doctors. We become attached to our nurses. We become attached to those in pathology that draw our blood during labs. It’s all a sense of security, and once you’re in remission, your security blanket is completely gone. That’s why they say that the first 6 months of remission is so difficult, for the above reasons.
I used to meet with my doctor every Tuesday. Every single Tuesday. He was my security blanket to tell me that I was okay. Then it started to “see you in three months.” Treatment is over for a lot of us, but it’s never really actually over. If one minor thing happens, your brain automatically goes into panic mode and you think “oh my god, what if I’m relapsing!? Am I relapsing?”
I’m guilty of this. Since I had stage 4, my relapse is very possible. Very freaking possible. I’m in remission, but I’m not cured. There is no “cure” for cancer. I had horrible abdominal and stomach pain for the last month. I let it go until week 3, where I called my doctor and let him know. He then freaked out too, and ordered me a CT scan. Our minds can play crazy ass tricks on us after cancer. I was convinced that I relapsed, and that my scan was going to come back with something, so I went buck wild. I said YOLO. I figured I would live and do as many things as I could as possible. It’s scary, really freaking scary. When you present with symptoms that you had before diagnosis, you just think “oh fuck”, it’s back. The thing is, no one really gets it, unless they’ve actually been through it. They don’t get the flash backs that you have in the back of your mind of being in the ER and going through biopsies, chemo, radiation, and so forth. They just don’t get it, unless it has happened to them. My scan ended up being clear by the grace of god, I just have a cyst on my ovary, which my doctor noticed. I swear that he’s a genius, and I honestly am so grateful that I received such an amazing doctor. Scary at first, but nonetheless, he saved me. And for that, I owe him more than he’ll ever know.
That’s the thing about security blankets, we become attached to our doctors. I used to hate going to see my doctor because we had communication issues at first. Now I literally cry when I’m waiting to see him, because without him, I wouldn’t be here today typing this. I cry every time I think about him. He saved me. He saved my life. The bond that you develop with your heme/onc can’t even be described. And maybe they don’t even know it, but it’s there, and it’s real.
So how do you deal with the relapse scares in my opinion? You relax. You calm down. And you realize that this is now your life, and it’s not the same as it was 6 months or one year ago and that’s OKAY. Everything has changed, you have changed, your thoughts have changed, and you’re just not the same person that you used to be any more. You can’t allow cancer to define you, because yes, you’ve been through hell and back, but you’ve changed, and there’s a 99% chance that it is for the better. You really only have two options, let the fear consume you, or realize when you’re having irrational thoughts, take note of them, and tell yourself “I’m doing it again”, and eventually it will pass. Fear will never stop you from relapsing, it will stop you from LIVING. If you’re going to relapse, then you’re going to relapse, and there is nothing that you can do about it, just like there was nothing that you could do about actually getting cancer. You have to remember that fear is a product of the thoughts that you are creating in your mind. Like they say, it makes the wolf bigger than it actually is, and if you give into it, your mind can play tricks on you, and you can actually develop random pains or rashes or coughs, etc. Because believe me, I’ve done it too. I’m still working on stopping it. Trust me, I was freaking out to all of my cancer friends for weeks, and they all told me to chill the f out, But the only way to stop fear it is to look it in the eye and tell it that you won’t let it consume you. Shit, if you’ve survived cancer, you can survive ANYTHING! But I’m just here to tell you that it’s normal, and all of my Lymphoma friends say that it eventually gets better. But it’s up to you to decide whether you want to actually live, or live in fear. It’s your choice. I vote option A.
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