This week I had my four month oncologist appointment. The days leading up to this are always a mixed bag but usually it’s terrifying. As I get further away from the end of my active breast cancer treatment it has gotten easier but there is still a crazy amount of anxiety and depression for a few days as I anticipate this appointment. I don’t know that it will ever go away completely. During this time, my mind will form very specific visions. I think everyone thinks about death and dying at some point but in my case I can say it was always a bit removed from reality. It was a day far in the future. You know logically that someday you will die and you wonder how it might happen but it’s not tangible. Since my cancer diagnosis my thoughts about death are quite detailed and specific. As I was getting ready for this appointment this past Wednesday, I was looking around the room with a blank stare and all of a sudden I pictured myself in the hospital, dying, saying goodbye. My husband and daughter coming home afterwards. I know it sounds morbidly dramatic but I just couldn’t help it. I wondered how they would feel walking into the house we’ve lived in for 14 years since my daughter was a baby, knowing I never would again. I pictured my daughter not having me to consult and confide in, considering all the questions she’s going to have in the years to come that I won’t be able to answer for her. I tried to imagine my family going about their daily lives with me not there. What about my dog and my cats? Just thinking about my pets wondering if I was coming home made me verklempt. So, I turned the radio on to clear my mind, got my big girl pants on, danced around the room for a bit, and took my melodramatic ass to the appointment.
How on earth did I all of a sudden bring myself to this dreary and emotional place? I have been trying to live my life to the absolute fullest. I am proud of myself for not letting cancer rule my life. But approaching this appointment triggers very real fear and trepidation. And here’s the kicker, there is really no way to know if my cancer is returning. My oncologist will look for abnormalities in my labs and perform a physical exam, but the cancer can still be there undetected. But if there is no sign of cancer then it’s like no news is good news. Thankfully this time, he said there is still no evidence of disease. I released the breath I had been holding for three days. Since my diagnosis in 2015, I have been seeing him every four months or sooner. Now he says I can some back in 6 or 7 months. Part of me is happy, but part of me is nervous. Seeing him just twice a year now means he thinks I’m doing well and is reducing my follow up-which is a good thing. But seeing him every four months gives me comfort and allows me to imagine more=better, but intellectually I know that is not the case.
So until I get ready for my next appointment 6 months from now, I will live my life and appreciate all the beautiful things I am blessed with. I will push all morbid thoughts of death OUT of my brain. Death is part of life but not today.