I had just one question for the doctor: Is this normal?
I’ve been cancer-free for two years, but I still go to The James every three months for a check-up. Yesterday was the day.
I sat in the white, sterile exam room in a chair eye-level with my medical oncologist. Everything in the room looked clinical and uncaring, except for her eyes.
Her soft brown eyes were locked into mine as she listened to every word I said.
… I know these thoughts aren’t logical…
… I know we’re doing everything we can to keep it away…
… I just can’t help but feel like the other shoe is going to drop…
… like the cancer is going to come back…
Finally I finished with, Is this normal???
I could tell she cared deeply. I could tell she wished she could tell me there would be no chance of recurrence. But instead she gently spoke truth. She reminded me that with cancer, just like with life, there are no guarantees. We never know what’s right around the corner, but we do know we’re in this together.
And yes, she assured me, these thoughts are completely normal.
We talked about using some medication to help level out these feelings, but in the end I decided I wasn’t quite ready for that. I feel like there are still some things I can incorporate into my life before I take that step.
We decided instead that I would find a really great Christian counselor and my doctor wrote me a “prescription” for exercise. Start with just 10 minutes 1 to 2 days a week, work up to 3-4 days a week, then start adding time, 20 minutes, 30 minutes until I’ve built up a solid routine. She said I don’t need to go all-out crazy, but I do need to work up a sweat each time. I guess that new treadmill in our basement is going to get some use this winter.
This is all very personal information to share with you, but as always, I feel like it’s important to be open because I imagine I’m not alone.
Maybe your thing isn’t cancer, but I bet you have a thing. I bet there is something in your life that produces a little bit of anxiety, a little bit of worry.
It’s okay. Me too.
Maybe we can both take comfort in the words of my very wise doctor. We never know what’s right around the corner, but we do know we’re in this together.