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Yes, It's OK to Be 'No Evidence of Disease' After Cancer and Still Feel Sad

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You know how when you want a new car and all of a sudden you see that new car on the highway all the time?

This has been happening with cancer articles.
All of a sudden I’m seeing a slew of cancer articles of exactly what I’ve been feeling.
It’s like I could have written them.
And it’s like I could have written them because many of us “no evidence of disease” (NED) folks all feel the same.

The feeling of guilt.

We survived.
We are NEDS.
So why are we still feeling sad?
Why are we guilt-ridden that we feel sad and worried when we “survived?”

Guilt that we should be living life to the fullest.
That we should be walking around constantly smelling roses and listening to the ocean waves and drinking kombucha and eating chia seeds.

And I like to think we do that.
Minus the chia seeds.

But other times we are enveloped by fear.
And sadness.
And anxiety.
And guilt.
And fear.
(Yes. Of course I realized I said fear twice.)

We are living.

Cancer is behind us.
Our hair is back.
Our scars are no longer purple.
The port is gone.
(Yet we never get rid of our little blue radiation tattoos.)

But here we are.
And sometimes sad.
Occasionally guilt ridden.
Frequently angry.

We have no right to be fearful and sad because we are NED.

I call bullshit.

Of course we have the right.

I don’t care if you were “just” needing a lumpectomy or if you were in the full blown regimen of chemo, radiation and surgery (upon surgery).
Stage 1 vs. stage 3.
You had cancer.

And remember, cancer village, there is no luck in cancer so don’t you dare feel guilty that you have these feelings because you were one of the “lucky ones.”

Explain to me the luck in having cancer.

I’m 13 months out from my last treatment.
My hair can go into a ponytail and I no longer reach for the bulging vein from my port.
Chicken smells no longer repulse me and my treasure map of a body doesn’t either.

But believe you me, I fear.
And I look for lumps and bumps.
And I often cannot breathe because I hated that my book incorporates not one, but two effin’ chapters about cancer.

But here’s the thing.
Sure we are “supposed to” be smelling roses but remember this…

You don’t need to smell them daily.

This story originally appeared on Eat The Frosting First.

Originally published: April 5, 2019
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