“You’re scans are good, tell me how everything else is going?”
9 months into this stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis and somehow we’ve reached this point with our Oncologist where we have gone from conversations like “the lung mass has shrunk from 6.7cm to 2.5 cm” and “the multiple small brain lesions have disappeared” and “the surgery cavity is healing nicely – the edges are smoothing and swelling is down considerably” to “scans are good, how’s things?” We even ended our last appointment talking about running and wakesurfing. I guess my prescription now is “go on and live your life”.
In other words – I am “stable”. Stable is good. It’s remarkable actually, considering I am only 8 months in and have done nothing but take a pill. And have brain surgery;) I’m grateful for stable.
When I was diagnosed in 2021 we had a lot of conversations around the mental challenges that came with the diagnosis. Facing fears and managing grief were a daily task, sometimes hourly. But nobody prepared me for the time when I would have to actually get on with living life. My purpose was literally survival and now it’s…living?
As we (I say “we” because this is most definitely a family affair and a team effort) trek towards the 1 year mark from my diagnosis, I find it strange that what once consumed most of my days has now oddly taken a backseat to life. Doctors appointments and scans and labwork have given way to vacations and kayaking and quality time with family and friends and too much time on my hands. When I was stressing through life pre-cancer I would have given anything to live this life I have currently. Well, not anything, I certainly wouldn’t have offered up my health for a less stressful life, but you get my drift.
It makes me wonder – what are you trading your health for? What if you had a “prescription” to go enjoy your life – would it look different than it does now? In what way?
For years I made attempts to change my stress level, my burden. I just could never seem to do it. My intrinsic value was productivity and guilt sat in the front row to remind me. How many things could I check off the list today? Go for a hike when I am buried by a tsunami of office work? Not gonna happen. Read a book when the kitchen is Old Mother Hubbard? Never. A visit with my parents when I’m needed in a million other places? Sadly, no.
The twist in this story is that really the only thing I would change today is that I wish we didn’t have the burden of knowing that this beast is quietly hibernating inside me. It is a very “under the radar” kind of anxiety that sits with not just me but my entire family, all of the time. I hate that for us. But besides that, I wouldn’t go back to the way things were. I wouldn’t go back to the stress of trying to do it all, the pushing off of time with people I love, or the “I’ll do it another day” attitude. I definitely wouldn’t go back to the long hair that sticks in my lipstick when I’m in the boat or have the window down;)