When People Ask If I'm 'Better' Now That the Cancer Is 'Over'
It’s not over. It will never be “over.” I know, it’s a depressing thought. But so many people have asked me, “You’re better now?” However, it’s not really a question… more of a statement. Like they are telling me I’m better now. Doctors are really good at this — trying to tell me I’m feeling better and everything is OK. Because that’s easier for other people. Because I had the cancerous organ removed, therefore everyone thinks it’s over. But the hard truth is, it’s far from over, and it won’t ever be over. Symptoms may improve, even to the point of remission, but it’s always there. Either as a memory, an unnamed pain, a worry in the back of the mind.
Putting cancer aside… (which is a strange statement, I know) having an autoimmune disorder is a long-term battle. It’s a daily struggle with flair-ups and remission. It can be debilitating at times, and other times it’s a distant thought and cannot even be detected.
Autoimmunity is a lot like cancer in that way. Remission, flair up, treatment, repeat. When that diagnosis comes and you understand the weight of it, it sinks in with all of its ups and downs and uncertainty. It changes life forever. Life will never be the same when something of that magnitude enters.
So what do you do when facing this diagnosis if it’s never over? You live… every day with courage, perseverance, and you try not to let the anger eat you alive. I have been angry, and I struggle almost daily with it. Not really with the question of “why me?” but with the realization that I feel truly alone. The loneliness has been deep and has made me rethink every single priority. However, I have come to be grateful for this realization. It has brought back into focus that the only true connection comes from within and connects to something bigger than ourselves. To the universe, to nature, to God.
So even though it will never be over, I believe the journey is meant to mean something. To point us where we need to go. To make us something more than we were before.
Or maybe it’s just a joke the universe is playing on us and it means nothing… either way.
*Disclaimer: The last sentence was my attempt to be funny and lighten the mood.
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Thinkstock photo by Ryan McVay