Sunday, February 12, 2012

When do you stop thinking about cancer?

Once you have a cancer diagnosis, you are supposed to go through treatment and then move on to your new normal. Ahem. I have never liked that term 'new normal'. I don't want to move on to a 'new normal' I want to still be me. I also don't like the term 'cancer survivor', all I survived was a bunch of doctor appointments.

The mental roller coaster is not much different. It is part of that 'new normal' too. The question that has been debated offline for eternity and now all over the internet - it has been brought up on every cancer board I have been on is: 'When do you stop thinking about cancer?' The answer is never. I don't think this will ever go away until there is some kind of cure. There is always that little voice in the back of your head saying 'what if, what if, what if, what if...'

24 years after my thyroid cancer diagnosis, I was told I had fibroid tumors and needed a hysterectomy. My first question was 'what are the chances they are cancer?' I was told very small -  in fact the surgeon told me 'they would slice and dice them to make sure'. I kind of liked the term 'slice and dice'. But cancer was my first thought.

Last fall, I found I had a bump in my mouth on the back of my jaw. I asked the dental hygienist at a cleaning and she thought it was significant enough to have the dentist take a look. His first words were not what I wanted to hear 'I don't think its cancer but if it doesn't go away...'. Of course it didn't go away and my brain was heading down the cancer road to hell again. I later found out it was just some scar tissue and is nothing. (A special note to doctors, never start with 'I don't think its cancer but...')

I am not sure at this point I can ever have a medical ailment now without first thinking of cancer. Living in the 'its-not-a-headache-its-a-brain-tumor' lifestyle. You can't undo the cancer stuff, they still have no cure, and it will always be there. So my answer to the question of when do you stop thinking about cancer is: Never.

1 comment:

Sue Bock said...

Fear of recurrence is the most common reaction after breast cancer for women. What if you changed your perspective from one of surviving to thriving? You have a choice where you want to live. Embracing thriving will bring you more peace than surviving.