January 2014 was one year since my last chemo treatment. Technically, I am cancer free, but I still don’t feel completely free of the cancer and the lasting impacts on my body and mind. I visit a doctor every three months so they can check my blood and make sure there is no recurrence. Since the mastectomy, I have had three additional surgeries on my chest to try and get some sense of normalcy back. Of course it is hard to have a normal looking chest when you have multiple scars and no nipples.
Every day I take an oral chemotherapy, Tamoxifen, that will hopefully keep any remnants of cancer away, but it has been known to cause other types of cancer. I get tired more easily than I have before, “they” say it is because of the chemo and the major drain it takes on my body. I realize that I’m alive and I’m thankful I didn’t die from breast cancer.
I’m just tired of all of it. I’m tired of making the next doctor’s appointment. I’m tired of having to bother with pills and surgeries. Are my emotions tied to the fact that the pain in my knees could be the cancer coming back? I know, anxiety girl strikes again and worry isn’t worth it. Should I keep taking the tamoxifen or just have a total hysterectomy?
Some days I don’t even think about the cancer. I do what I do and don’t think about any of this, but some days it all builds up and makes me feel like I have no control over anything. It’s a common thought for anyone who has had invasive cancer. Even though the cancer is gone, doctors will never say those words. It is in remission or not detectable. “They” say if you make it to five years with no recurrence, your chances of recurrence are greatly reduced.
It is a lot to think about, a lot to digest, and I can only focus on it a little at a time or I would go crazy. I’ve decided to schedule my “worry about cancer” days. That way I can think about it without feeling guilty and leave it on that day. One day a month I am freeing myself to think about it, worry about it, talk about it, write about it, and get through it. Then I get the rest of the days to live and do the rest of the stuff that I get to do because I’m alive. Forget cancer, I’ve got a Master’s degree to finish, a teaching job to snag, and two boys who need a mom who isn’t caught up in worry.
Most of all, why worry when it does no good? Why worry when I have a God who can handle it for me? One day a month, we’ll talk it out, but the rest of the month, I’ll live it out.
Matthew 6:27 Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying?