Last week, I went to Florida for my 22-month checkup. I have been going to Florida for my checkups every three months for the past two years. In Hodgkin’s lymphoma protocol, you see your doctor every three months for the first two years. Then you may graduate to four or six months and then eventually you will see your doctor about once a year. These visits are to make sure that you are cancer-free and that you have not relapsed, which is most common in the first five years of remission.
My oncologist does clinic-based checkups, when he will check my blood levels and do a full inspection of my lymph nodes. I call it my massage, haha! In some cases, when I feel symptomatic or am aching for a scan, he will oblige. That has only happened twice, once in December 2016 and again this most recent checkup. It’s not often that I’m convinced I’m relapsing, so I just want the clarity and peace of mind that I am cancer-free.
At this past checkup, we did a scan and my doctor texted me just a day after to let me know that the scan was clear and that I am, in fact, still cancer-free.
It’s an interesting concept to be cancer-free. I celebrate being cancer-free every day now. Just to go to my appointment and get reassurance that I’m still cancer-free is something itself. Then I get in my head: I was always cancer-free before I got cancer. My fiance is cancer-free. My roommates are. My mom is. Most of the people in my life (aside from some cancer friends) are CANCER-FREE!
Bear with me here. This feeling might be a little complicated to put into words, but I really want to try. It’s weird to even think of life before cancer and comprehend that I was cancer-free then. I feel like cancer is now just a part of my being and all I’m doing is striving to stay as free of it as possible. Which is true, I am. The goal is to remain cancer-free. It is just so interesting to me how my priorities and goals have shifted.
My cancer-free day is more important to me now than my birthday is. I worked for this, I lived through the struggle and comprehend and understand how much effort went into my survival and cancer-free status.
After my checkup and I get the confirmation that I’m cancer-free, it’s exciting and refreshing to hear those words being said out loud. Every time that I hear I am cancer-free, it’s like hearing it for the first time. I am thrilled to get another chance to wake up, a chance to walk down the aisle and a chance to create a family.
I sit in disbelief that this feeling and those words have such an impact on me. I have endless moments where I think to myself “WTF, I had CANCER?!” I sometimes cannot even comprehend that this is my life now. That I make video blogs on life with cancer, that I have a close relationship with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, that I carry a white lantern at Light the Night, and that I write a column for “Lymphoma News Today.”
I can’t believe that being cancer-free are words that I look forward to hearing now. I still can’t believe it happened to me, and I’m not sure if that feeling will ever go away. In the meantime, I’m going to embrace my renewed status of being cancer-free and thank the universe for today and the days to come.
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.