It’s overwhelming. To see that you’ve gotten to the end of treatment, it’s overwhelming. There’s a sense of accomplishment, and why not? Mammograms, biopsies, scans, MRIs, exams, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and drugs. All for what? To be called cancer free. To be called a cancer survivor. A label I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be named. You mean, it’s not something you wish to be? It’s not a part of some fifth grade essay of what you want to be when grow up? It’s definitely not something you can choose to have. It’s not contagious. You can’t prevent it by washing hands. You can try to hold it off by not smoking , by eating well, or even by not using some plastics. But really? There are people who never smoked a day in their life and die from lung cancer. There are health nuts who eat only vitamins a, c and e, and still get colon cancer. Even after I tested negative for the cancer gene (the one and only genetic test created for cancer), despite all of the cancer in my family (see blog post EVERYONE KNOWS CANCER), they actually tell me it’s ‘just dumb luck.’ Well, you know what I say to that? Dumb luck, you’re fucking mean! Isn’t luck supposed to be a good thing? So if it’s not a good thing don’t call it luck at all. I always hear the ‘good’ kind of cancer, and I tune out which is which because no matter which one it all sucks!
So to end the treatment process is simply overwhelming. I’m done in the eyes of the medical industry, and everyone else for that matter. But in the back of my mind, I always hear the whisper, ‘for now.’ I know there are survivors out there, some for decades, and some even close friends. But the fear is there. That once this is in you, it’s in you, like some stagnant egg from alien waiting to ignite. Ending treatment is supposed to feel like a good thing, but when the doctors can’t give you a guarantee that you’re cured, a part of you feels as if it was all for nothing. I want to be told that I’m officially cancer free. I want to be told that after the 5 hour bilateral mastectomy, four and a half months of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation and now five years of pill popping, the professionals that I’m in debt to (literally, now reaching over $40k – the blog is coming called ‘the costs of cancer,’ don’t you worry)… I want to be told that the professionals did their job. And since they can’t I don’t feel I can call myself cancer free, or a cancer survivor. It may seem trivial, but it’s true. I see the faces of those that fought and didn’t make it. I imagine what it was like for them to be told that the cancer came back. I specifically see my father’s cousin. I met her once when I was very young, before the cancer. She was beautiful, fun and happy. Like me, she had breast cancer at the age of 36. Like me, she had two kids. Like me, she thought she was ‘cancer free.’ Unfortunately, she was remission for five years before it came back with a vengeance. After fighting for another five years, she died from breast and spinal cancer at the age of 46, ten years after she was first diagnosed.
I am grateful, don’t get me wrong. I have the most amazing husband, who is an incredible father to our two beautiful girls. I have a family that will lay down their life for me. I have friends near and far that would be at my beckoning call should I need anything. I have a boss that doesn’t ask any questions. I have a job that I love and keeps me out of my head. I have much more than most. I know that. I know that the energy I’ve put into fighting this shit has been worth it. I just want to make sure that it’s been enough, because if it’s not, I’ll keep going. For as long as I have to, I’ll keep going. I’ll keep going for all that I have and don’t have.