“No evidence of disease, or NED, is the new ‘remission”. But there is no cure for cancer and a certain percentage of cancers will recur, and nobody really knows if it will happen to them. Statistics get thrown around, charts and studies would conclude that the odds are in my favor of remaining NED, but there are no guarantees as we would all hope for. Such a guarantee is just out of reach. If it were, then I could stop thinking about it on a daily basis and we could all just leave Cancerland behind us.
I woke up the other day and thought to myself, what if I just didn’t talk about breast cancer anymore. What if I stopped going to support groups, stopped visit the oncologist, stopped hanging out with fellow survivors for coffee and lunch dates, WHAT IF I JUST QUIT CANCER? Maybe THAT is what would get me to move further along up the road. I’ve learned of plenty of people who did just that. They never spoke of it again, and they went on in their lives and stopped identifying themselves as survivors. But then later in the week I was working the volunteer hotline and took a phone call from a woman who has stage 4 breast cancer which has spread to her bones. She really needed someone. I found it hard to relate to a lot of what she is going through, but then we found the common bond of our faith, and it was there that I realized my BEING here in Cancer is for women like her. Women who need a ray of hope. A hand of compassion. There is a sisterhood here that few can understand. I know that when I was in my darkest hour I needed the survivors whom I met and became my friends. I needed the help of those who had gone before me and came out the other side, happy and healthy. I needed them like others need me now and so I guess I won’t be “quiting” cancer anytime soon.
The words that form this ribbon <——- are all words that describe the journey I began 18 months ago and the journey I am still on. Top on the list? Top of the ribbon- fear. Every day it tries to sneak in and consume my thoughts and steal my joy. Once again this week I treked up to see my doctor for pain in my sternum, that bone between the two sides of your chest. A new pain. She seems to believe it could be caused by the constant spasms in the chest muscle that covers my implant. Constant pulling and tugging, the cartilage between the sternum and rib cage becomes inflamed and is called costochondritis. The only treatment is pain management using anti-inflammatory drugs until the inflammation subsides. But for a breast cancer patient any pain signals that deep seated fear that the cancer could have returned. She scheduled my next mammogram for 3 weeks from now and we’ll go from there. She really believed if it were anything to “worry” about, it would have shown up on these recent scans and x-rays and mri I had. The appointment for my numbness in my back is this coming Monday with an orthopedic doctor.
We have out of town guests this week and Kelli in her school musical so the busy-ness is helping to keep me distracted. My business with wedding season and Mothers’ Day has also exploded, so I guess I don’t have time to worry too much. I have begun my counseling work Network Of Strength which helps keep my mind off my own cares and focus on someone else’s new diagnosis and getting them through an emotionally difficult time.
I love this song. I have heard it many times over the course of my storm called cancer and am well aware that sometimes God doesn’t take away the storms in my life. But I have felt Him calm me within. I am at that place now. A calm place. Sure, the dangers that lurk in this sea of my life hover beneath me all the time, but I have felt carried through this years’ storms and I know that come what may, He will carry me through those too. Please visit Reduce Your Risk pages to learn more about breast cancer risks.