I thought hearing that word “remission” or “cancer free” or “NED” would allow me to exhale. To celebrate. I never thought I’d hear that word alongside “faith” or “wait and see”.
I guess I pictured my oncologist ordering a scan. It coming back delightfully clean, allowing me to relax and to breathe, at least until my next scan. But I don’t get a scan at all. I don’t get that thing that I envisioned freeing me (at least temporarily) from the obsession of “has this grown already”. For people like me, they assume you don’t have Stage 4 cancer until you’re symptomatic. No scans. None. No follow up on the “extensive lymph vascular invasion” from my 3C breast cancer. When you have 3C breast cancer the only way to be certain it hasn’t already become Stage 4 cancer is to do scans. How could you have no curiosity as to whether or not that spot on my liver was reactive to chemotherapy?
I’m not naive enough to think that a clean scan means cancer was gone from my life forever, but I guess I hoped it would allow me a few months of being free from it.
So we’re working with the good faith remission system.
1. That it was cut off of my body
2. That radiation killed any remaining cells
3. That existing daily medication and monthly injections (for the foreseeable future) will prevent my rogue cells from landing
BUT NO PROOF THEY HAVEN’T ALREADY LANDED.
An argument for this method of medi-guess-ology is that getting scans for people who have had extensive radiation can do more harm than good. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY LIVER. Don’t you want to know? I do. I was told that “delayed gratification” would come in the form of sitting in the oncologists office 5 years later with no new symptoms. BUT STILL NO SCANS.
So when they told me I was cancer free, without any proof of it, I ran from the cancer center in tears. Making what was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life one of the most devastating.
I haven’t shared this widely yet, because I’m not ready to be congratulated. I don’t feel like I got what I came for…. peace of mind.