Well I made it. Close to five years after my last radiation session with no sign of recurrence and both the onco and I are ready to close the book on my lymphoma. Today at my three-month checkup he said I could get away without coming back for a year. A YEAR.
Which frankly caught me by surprise since I’d been expecting at least one more three-month. It must have showed on my face because he added, “What, separation anxiety?” After I allowed maybe it was something like that we settled on six months; I know how my mind works and if you give me a year away from just about anything I’ll delete that anything from memory so thoroughly it might as well have never existed. Still, while I’m in no hurry to get cancer again I’m in no hurry to forget about it either. I’ve learned too much during these years – about myself, about how the world works for those with chronic illness, about the people around me – to dismiss the experience so easily.
That these years have gone so largely trouble-free is a measure, I guess, of how well I responded to treatment, of the strength of my immune system; the onco said as much as we wrapped up today and this time I think I really heard it. But it’s also a measure of the quality medical attention I got: thank you, Medi-Cal. And of fortuitous timing, since I got through treatment well before the current administration took over and I thus started worrying pretty much every day whether my Obamacare would suddenly disappear.
Finally it’s a measure of the support folks provided me no matter whether close or distant. This was something that, life-threatening or not, might have broken me if I’d had to go through it alone. I’m glad I didn’t.
The doc doesn’t seem concerned about the cancer coming back anytime soon if ever; he wasn’t even put out when I wasn’t able to get the CT scan he ordered in time for today’s appointment, “just get it soon and let me know once you have” is what he said. My gut feeling – such a ha-ha that phrase is here because my lymphoma first announced itself by forming a tumor that tried to squish my guts – is It won’t be back, and what a relief that is. Since seeing my father die of cancer I’ve had a near-lifelong fear that it would get me too, that something malignant would someday turn up inside me when it was too late to do anything about it.
Well, as it turned out part of that was what happened and the other part wasn’t. We should all be so lucky WRT our fears. Either way I’m glad to not have to think about this at all for the next half-year. And, it appears, a good long time afterwards.