When I was going through treatments I went in weekly to have my blood drawn. They were checking my white blood cell count constantly. After chemo was finished, I still went in regularly to get my blood drawn.
Every three months.
Every six months.
Once a year.
Once a year with my mammogram.
Each time the doctor told me I didn’t have to come back for longer period of time, I should have felt joy.
I should have felt relief that I was healed.
Was I cured?
Do you really ever say you are cured of cancer? There is no cure, so what do you say?
I don’t know.
Every time the distance between appointments was lengthened, I was scared.
What if it came back?
What if they thought they got it all but they didn’t and if I came back in three months it might be too late.
What if the next time they drew blood
the next time I had a mammogram
the next time I saw the doctor
What if …
I thought about the “what if’s” frequently during treatment and the first few years after. I went to see my oncologist for my yearly check-up last year and he told me he could cut me loose. I didn’t need to see him anymore. My BRAC genetic test for breast cancer was negative. The results of my oncotype test showed less than a 1% chance of recurrence. He felt comfortable not seeing me anymore.
I didn’t breathe.
I didn’t blink.
I felt sick at my stomach.
It was irrational but I felt the same fear I felt when I was initially diagnosed.
He watched as I processed what he told me.
I didn’t speak. I experience fear each year when I go to see my oncologist but the visit had become my security blanket. Dr. Davidson had my back.
Cancer had been a part of my life since November 13, 2006. It will always be a part of me. Cancer will not define who I am but cancer changed me. It is hard for me to not look for the positives in all situations. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I did not look for positives. As I moved through treatment, I had to be positive.
I looked at Dr. Davidson.
I am positive my cancer is gone. I was also positive I was not ready to be set free.
He smiled at me and said he would see me in a year.
I had breast cancer.
I don’t have it now.
Maybe next year, I’ll be ready to be cut loose.