This blog first appeared on the 411 VOICES website and is reprinted here with permission by the author, Louise Sattler.
When the Guest Won’t Leave – Living with Cancer
By Louise Sattler, Signing Families
Cancer arrived at my doorstep nearly three years ago. It wasn’t welcome and it took every ounce of my being and the skill of a team of doctors to eradicate the beast from being detected in my body. I am thankful for all amazing medical care that I received at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Yet, despite being one of the “lucky ones,” I must say that cancer is like a guest that never LEAVES!
I know that many are probably reading this article thinking I have NO right to complain. I survived. I am able to see another day. I truly get that sentiment and outrage. I like most, have lost many a friend and relative to cancer. I also know that when you are a survivor and doctors have determined your disease untraceable with no apparent evidence (we no longer call it remission), that you will continue to have your doubts. Big ones. Forever.
Because in reality cancer never really leaves you…
In fact, it lurks in the back of the minds of each and every person I know who has been diagnosed. Sure, you can try and forget about it. Go about routine as if it never existed, but the honest truth is that it wins, time and time again.
Every cough… every body pain… every headache… makes you wonder… is IT back?
When I first heard about the words.. You have Stage 3 metastatic cancer of the thyroid – time stopped. I started to recall chapter and verse Kubler – Ross’ books about grief and dying. Instead of being a patient I became – “SUPER PSYCHOLOGIST”.. busy analyzing the words and body stance of the doctor delivering the news. Was she lying? Was he being too evasive? Was it worse than she said or better?
Fast – forward to six months after my diagnosis when I got the news many long to hear- “there is no evidence of disease”. I spent that day smiling from ear to ear and feeling an overwhelming sense of being grateful! But, that didn’t last long as IT returned. Not as cells that torment and rage your body but as a mental invader giving you a chronic sense that the “other shoe could drop” so don’t be so smug.
So, as I get ready to hop back on the table for my bi-annual check up, I am smacked with the reality that the beast still lurks in the back of my mind and I need to own up to that. I also have determined that there are many more beasts finding a permanent home in the minds of others. I guess I am not the only one with the guest that refuses to leave.
So, I guess it is time to just accept that some guests never leave… or pay rent.