I would like to take you back to a couple of weeks ago. I woke up at my usual 5 am and got ready to go to the hospital for a 6:30 am appointment.
Why so early? Well, I was having an MRI and I needed to have it done before my preschool class starts at 9 am. Why not just plan it for another day? Because I had been experiencing some back pain for a few months and the anxiety portion of my brain couldn't handle it anymore. I needed to see beyond the skin and know what was going on.
I quietly went to the hospital- by myself- and laid on an MRI table for 45 minutes while the machine buzzed and clicked around me. While I was willing my body to be still, I was also willing my mind to be at peace. That is much easier said than done when facing the "C" word. There is something about those 6 little letters that can strike fear in the heart of the bravest people.
Before I go any further with this post, I will tell you that everything is fine. I am healthy. No sign of the cancer showed up on the MRI, and so as far as I know, I am still cancer free. (Yay!)
This fear of recurrence is what life looks like on the other side of cancer. It doesn't matter what kind of cancer you had, what stage you were, or anything like that. Cancer is cancer and the thought of going through treatment again makes your very soul shiver. It's a tough thing and some days are worse than others. I have found that I am definitely having more good days then bad now that I am 4+ years from my diagnosis. I hope that trend continues as the years go by. But there will always be that one little section of my brain that says, "When it comes back..." And that's okay. I have made peace with that darling section of my brain and we have come to a truce of sorts. I let it think that the cancer is coming back someday, and in return, it stays tucked away and allows me function somewhat normally through my crazy life.
I want others to know that they are not alone! I also want to let them know that it is okay to meet with a counselor, a therapist, a psychologist, or another professional who can help him or her sort through these feelings. I also want to let them know that it is okay to take medication for these disorders. There is a stigma attached to mental health that needs to go away. I am not sure why we don't want to take care of our brain, which is the central location for everything else that happens in our body. If we have strep throat or a broken arm or some other physical ailment, we usually seek for medical attention right away. So why do we hesitate to make sure our brain is healthy?
This topic of recurrence and the anxiety associated with it is probably one that I will write about again. There is too much information to cover in just one blog post. So I will leave this post with a "to be continued" attached to it and I also want to leave a list of websites you can go to that have helpful information regarding life after cancer and dealing with the mental games that plague us.