Remission… What Then?
Remission is a strange word. I never use it. Bad omen, I think. I don't truly believe that there is remission in cancer, just waiting. Waiting for whatever comes next. Could be a long time or a short time, waiting nonetheless. Webster's defines remission, as, number one: reduction of a prison sentence based on good behavior. That fits, I think. Then, number two: remitting of a debt or penalty. That sort of fits, too, in a perverse, analytical way. Then there's number three: diminution of or a period of relief from disease or pain. Okay. And then number four: forgiveness--as in sins?? Well, three out of four have a temporary status. That's my point. Just waiting… an intermission, you might say.
But when cancer comes a-knocking, AGAIN, will we be ready? Nurtured, rested, peaceful of mind? Armed with the courage to fight the battle once again? We never know if this is the last time, but we must believe, we cancer warriors, that we will make it through once again. And why not? We are tough; we made it through before, didn't we?
Back pain, abdominal flutterings; is that fluid buildup, again? What does it mean? Or does it mean nothing at all? So we wait and hope it is nothing, just our imagination. But then, a diagnosis comes, so we resign ourselves to "here we go again." A day at a time. Balding, puffy face, no eyebrows or lashes, bloated in general, energy waning. Walking around in hats and scarves, even in the heat of summer.
You know you kind of lose your self-esteem, but it's tolerable if we believe things will eventually get back to normal. It takes a while, but it will come. Self-esteem will return. We rest, pamper ourselves, eat right; take megadrugs and megavitamins, steroids, chemo. Chemo, you know, kills the good and bad cells, but it's essential. We must trust our oncologists with all our hearts and minds. Trust unconditionally.
Sometimes we think, "Why me? Do I really deserve this?" Then sometimes we say, "Did I cause it? Was it the fish, the dairy, the wine or the bovine or nothing I did at all? Just the luck of the draw? Very simply… stuff happens. And I just happen to be the one. Maybe God thinks I can handle it. Maybe He's right."
It is in some ways like waiting for the second coming. When Jesus comes, will we have our houses in order?
When cancer comes a-knocking, will we be ready to fight, be tough, be strong, have faith, kick it in the butt?
It is a preparation we must make, getting our houses in order. Make the most of every single moment. Live, love, laugh, dance and EAT, but eat well.
And then eventually someone will say, once again, "Are you in remission?", and we will say, "Yes" or "Maybe" or "I hope so"… for now anyway.
- Anonymous Cancer Survivor
- Fincannon, Joy RN MN
- Foster, Sara M. RN, MPH
- Stump-Sutliff, Kim RN, MSN, AOCNS