The Ghosts of Ovarian Cancer http://www.washingtonpost.com/
The author, Donna Trussell (her new blog), talks about her perspective on cancer in her life, 12 years after a diagnosis and initial treatment. She has lived longer since diagnosis than many. And she talks about how she felt about cancer:
"How did a debilitating, life-threatening disease become a journey, an adventure, a mystical calling? I suggest we demote cancer to what it really is: proof of our human frailty. Survivors go on with their lives despite cancer, not because of it."
I also love her comment when facing a questionable result in a recent check up:
"“Let’s think positive,” the nurse said. “Oh yes,” I said, “because that works so well.” My sarcasm made us both laugh."
I have heard health care professionals, my colleagues, and my own family say that about 'thinking positive', and I react the same way, with total sarcasm. Thinking a certain way doesn't cause nor fights off cancer - sorry to tell you that. Also, if you are over the age of 6, we can meet and discuss Santa.
Her final line in the story: "But with cancer, you never really go home." Yep, that pretty much says it all. At the same time, though, I can say that I have created a new home, and have been pretty strong about what I invite into that home to be with me. I don't stew about cancer all the time - didn't even when I was going through active treatment. Somehow, I held on to whatever "I" am, and kept it going, despite all the crud I went through, and still occasionally go through. The only thing I hope for is that the "I" hangs around, no matter what else I have to face.
Since this is a slow cancer (or I have a slow version of it, whichever), I could just as easily expire due to another biological or accidental reason, same as I had going before a cancer diagnosis. The odds of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma putting me in the grave will increase whenever the mets get big enough to warrant attention again, but until then, I figure I still need to watch out for speeding busses, tornadoes, and cardiovascular disease.
I have changed how I see my life span, though. Whenever the financial folks are consulted, I generally tell them to pretend I am ten years older, so they will shorten their predictions on what my work-life might include. Also, I make choices to stay closer to what I value, including family time, quality of life, and work-life balance. After staring at the end of things, I never want to forget what really counts as I dive back into the 'living' side of life.