A significant date is fast approaching in my life after survived cancer.
The 3 year mark without recurrence is a milestone of sorts although one can never be sure that 'hank' won't come back for another dance with me.
Statistically, I should have never got this type of cancer.
I am one of 3133 cases reported in North America the year that I was diagnosed. My cancer was exceptionally rare.
My tumor, "Hank" was also very rare. By the time that he was discovered and uncloaked for what he really was, he'd already developed to 6 cm which is about the size of a small lime. This is a great fighting weight for a squamous cell carcinoma.
After undergoing numerous CT and PET scans, it was determined that he liked being alone and he hadn't infiltrated into my lymph nodes or through my rectal wall.
Hank being diagnosed as a bit 'weird' allowed me to be eligible to participate in a 'gene' therapy of sorts to improve my chances of surviving. How does one say 'no' to something like that? One never realizes how much they have to lose till you see what you will lose.
I knew there were about a dozen participants although I never met any of them to share stories and expectations. Maybe the research kept it like that? Maybe we were never supposed to talk to compare our stories.
I was closely tracked till a few months back. My oncologists kicked me to the curb with a great big smile and a pat on the back. I did good they said.
Forever gone are the CT scans and doctor visits. I no longer have to 'talk' to anyone about my lack of symptoms. I only have to submit to blood-work on occasion and check-up for regular sick crap all families have to take care of. I'll never be able to donate blood or organs but that's ok with me. I can live with that.
I got a call from my doctor today just to check up on me. How was I doing?
After a bit of chat, he started talking about my 'trial' drug and and how everyone in the trial has had a 'recurrence' except for me.
How does one look at that statement? Would you choose the pessimistic route and fall apart or would you chose the higher road and look for the reason?
I've been thinking about it a lot over the last few hours as surely as I will over the next few days. Heck, I'm gonna do some serious thinking about that tomorrow when I'm listening to 'I kissed a girl' on the treadmill at the gym.
What did I do or what happened to make my 'hank' not go looking for dinner when everyone else's 'hank' did?
I'm going to take the optimistic, high-road and think that I'm still here for a reason and hopefully a really good one. I actually believe this to be true. :)
I find it really hard sometimes to just sit back almost 'in wait' for him to come back gently knocking on my door again. One never gets much notice the second time he knocks. Its so hard sometimes to believe in your body and its strength when you've been let down with 'cancer'.
I've followed friends diagnosed the same time as I and a fair amount of them are no longer here. I cried for them and I also cried for me. The lives that are lost and the families destroyed by cancer is gut-wrenching.
Treatments to get rid of your cancer are way easier than surviving cancer. The aftermath is a true judge of your gut and your character. What are you really made of now? Do you really believe in all those things that you said to everyone else? Can you walk the walk to back up everything that you've said up till now?
I'd like to think it was the green cotton camo pants that I wore to each and everyone of my radiation and chemo treatments. Yup, that's it.
Or maybe it was the donuts that I brought for all the staff? Maybe they added a bit more 'ju' to my chemo that day.
Maybe its my ability to see 'good' in any situation no matter how much bad stuff is there lurking as well. Can you see something that is not there? Do you believe in yourself? If you close your eyes and try and believe in something, will it come true? Is it really just that easy?
I considered my 'dance' with cancer to be a mere 'pause' in my life. I gave it the attention that it deserved and then I tried (still am) to file it away to where it should be placed in my life. It used to take up 80% of my time and now its dwinded to thoughts throughout the day and serious reflections and prayer at night when I'm alone and no one can see.
"Hank" will always be somewhat of a 'monkey' on my back and I've put him in a backpack of sorts. He'll always be with me and looking over my shoulder I'm sure. This is ok with me.
The 'caution' flag went up at diagnosis and still remains at top-mast today in fact.
Keep your enemies close. He's always there lurking, waiting for a time and whether its in my lifetime or not, I will never give-up my life.
If he comes back to play with me, I'll be ready. I've played with him before and maybe he saw that I rocked.