words about words

Complete Remission.

Hooray, right? When did this happen?! Oh wow!

The Boss

Here’s the thing: I posted those two magical words on Facebook over a week ago. And one of my friends commented “I can’t wait for the triumphant blog post.” So, I’ve been waiting to feel triumphant and have come to the conclusion that…it ain’t gonna happen.

See, I was apparently in complete remission as soon as my surgeon took out those little cancer chunks back in October. But no one told me. See, I’m not a doctor obviously, and this is my first–and hopefully only–cancer rodeo. But I’ve read a lot and I’m a very active patient. I pay attention and I follow up and I ask questions. So the key phrases the search engine in my brain was looking for when Dr. Superman called me with pathology results were: “No evidence of disease” or “remission.” I knew enough to understand that “cured” was off the table. That’s not a word you use with cancer.

So, I didn’t hear those words and I freaked out. I had a meeting with Buffy the Cancer Slayer and still, those words were missing. And in all subseqent meetings with every person on this superfun cancer “team.”

Did I ask “Am I in remission?” No, I guess I didn’t. I’m fairly certain I’ve asked “Is there any more cancer in me?” and have been told that we have no reason to think so. No evidence. No evidence of disease, right? Only no one strung those three words together.

So, the last time I was in for my Herceptin infusion I saw Dr. Captain America and I asked him this question:

“So…do I HAVE cancer or did I used to have cancer? Am I an ex-cancer person?”

He replies. “Ex. You’re in complete remission.”

Well, halle-fuckin-lujah! But could no one have SAID that like maybe two months ago?!

Words are important. And I’m thrilled to hear those magical words and to repeat them to all the friends and supporters who care about what happens to me. And I’ve tried really hard over the last week and half or so to shed the frustration and focus on the outcome. I don’t have cancer anymore! Hooray!!!!!

But, gosh, the last couple months of my life would have been different if Dr Supe had just said “remission” when he called me that day. I was ready to hear it. I was ready to celebrate. And I kinda feel like I got ripped off.


3 thoughts on “The Magic Words

  1. You have every right to feel that way, my friend. I completely understand. Our family was ecstatic when we were told that my mother was considered to be “cancer free.” It was known to be an extremely aggressive form of cancer and did eventually return, but for some months we were all happy. Hugs, tears of joy, dinners, all that stuff that I’m sure you were looking forward to, but were too hesitant to conduct (or, if you did, too pensive to enjoy).

    You’re not wrong to be in a state of “hmph… well… it’s great news, obviously, but… it lacks the ‘oomph,’ the ‘hooray,’ the ‘HUZZAH’ I was expecting!” So here’s what I propose: assuming your next visit should be a 3 month checkup, then, hopefully, they start spacing screenings out more and more (6 months apart, etc…)? On that 3 month checkup, provided you get the “still cancer free” report from Dr. Captain America, then I propose you plan a celebration around that. If for no other reason than, hey, that’s another quarter of the year with GOOD NEWS. *NOW* it’s time to celebrate! Go to dinner with the family, take a weekend vacation, get a new tattoo, WHATEVER YOU WANT. 🙂

    Take back what’s rightfully yours: a cause to celebrate!

    1. trixie360 says:

      I love that idea!! Thank you!!!!

  2. Bev says:

    “Words are important.”

    so very true! I was waiting for them to say some form of those words too. I think the doctors are hesitant because too often it can come back to bite them when there is a recurrence. I found the phrasing in my scan results when I was reading them. “No Evidence of disease” Yeah!! What a releif to hear that.

    But as Lance Armstrong said “Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life”

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