Time flies when you’re cancer-free! Or at least when you presume you are anyway. Pushing myself to think about my canc-history, schedule overdue testing, live preventatively, and sit down to write a blog entry has proven difficult to say the least. But here I am and there you are—reading this, thank you—so allow me to update you while plunging myself into a perhaps much needed reminder of my canc-history.
On the living-life front, I’ve been as busy as ever. With long locks of flowing hair (well, not really long but relative to the stubble I had last year at this time), I’m still fighting the good fight for animals everywhere. While the usual ups and downs of life continue, I now see things through the cancer lens. Meaning, I bounce back and forth between wanting to sink into “normal” living, and not thinking about cancer; and getting the most out of life like the women in new anti- arthritis/erectile dysfunction/depression/insomnia -drug commercials. Most days it’s just normal living but I often am reminded of how not so long ago I desperately longed for even the frustrations that come from daily good-citizenship.
On the medical front, my breast has taken a break from the relationship. I’m not embarrassed (but perhaps should be) to admit that I haven’t made the effort to have the suggested April/May MRI done. Yeah, yeah, I know. But that’s kind of the smartest way to reaching my one-year-later-cancer-free milestone, don’t you think? Fine, if you don’t agree with my approach, you’ll be glad to know I’ve finally added it to my ‘to-do’ list.
|I didn't say it was on the top of my list.|
Just to be clear, I had wanted to schedule the damn test back in May. However, I badly want to avoid an office visit with the communication-deficient oncologist so I tried to have my primary care doctor order it. She wasn’t having it, adamantly proclaiming that an oncologist needs to order the test and review results with me, ignoring my point that I don’t currently have cancer, therefore I’m not in need of an oncologist. Much to my chagrin, I lost this debate and have been MRI-sulking ever since.
But more than just not getting what I want from a doctor (I think we’ve all experienced that), for me, it’s been hard to keep up with the post-cancer burden of medical tests and mindful living for two reasons. First, after living (barely) solely as a cancer patient—devoid of meaningful work, neglecting my role in friendships, and existing as a humorless blob—it’s so hard to even want to step back into those offices, you guys. It’s like I’m a college student, free from the stringent rules of my fascist parents who’s now out on the town with friends, topless and drunk. Kind of.
Secondly, I may have a tad of fear inside that if I give in to the tests, my clean(ish) streak will be over. No one wants to be given bad news, right? So if I just don’t go to the place that they give out the results of doom, I can pretend I’m cancer free. Let’s not forget the battle-of-the-wills from the professional pushers that comes with the ominous news. My blood pressure goes up just thinking about it.
What changed my mind from stubborn avoidance to prioritizing on my ‘to-do’ list, you ask? A recent, nice, long talk with my bestie during a weekend in DC for an HSUS conference. I so rarely talk about the cancer stuff these days but she prompted me and made some very compelling (and pushy) arguments. Okay, I’ll do it….promise.
So my feet-dragging is the result of a bit of denial mixed with stubbornness and topped with more denial. But—I’m going, I’m going. And before you get frustrated with me, sending me, “it’s only a test—get it done!” and “you’ll feel better if you just have the MRI!” comments, please know that what I’ve shared here are my real thoughts. I’m being open and honest with my feelings here, which you can’t change and you may not understand. But they’re true for me.
Besides—perhaps there’s nothing to fear and the tiny cancer cells within are respectfully maintaining their microscopic size and are adopting a friendly pledge to coexist without killing me. Kind of makes them sound adorable, doesn’t it?