I have to admit this out loud to someone, and why not you, dear internets?

Although I feel like I accomplished a lot this week, I am ashamed to admit that it is in part because I feel such an urgency about the things that I really wish to accomplish before I leave this Earth. 

I suppose that’s the cancer talking.  You see, I don’t really know if I’m cancer-free or not right now.  Yes, I had 6 months of chemotherapy to attack the cancer.  Yes, I had a double mastectomy to cut out the cancer that was left after chemo.  Yes, I’m in the midst of 7 weeks of daily radiation right now to kill any cells that might have been left behind.

But I haven’t had any scans that would tell me whether or not there are lumps of cancer that are growing elsewhere.  I suspect not, as I feel strikingly good (better than I have in years!), but I just don’t know.  I won’t know, in fact, unless I have a PET scan after my treatment is complete at the end of April.

And I’m not really sure where to go with that.  Imstell warned me, One Mother With Cancer warned me, other cancer survivors warned me, but I suppose I didn’t really understand until I got here. 

Once you’ve fought cancer — and won — how do you banish its presence from your life?  How do you put aside the worries about recurrence (IBC has a recurrence rate of 90% within five years, and most of those are within 2 or 3 years of treatment), about side effects (like, say, lymphoma, a cancer of the blood, which is extremely likely for someone who’s having as much radiation over as large a surface as I am?  It’s so likely, in fact, that the only question is whether I’ll survive the breast cancer long enough to develop lymphoma), and about an early death?

Sorry, Mom, and sorry, playdate friends, but this is where I am right now. 

I never promised that it would be easy, but I did promise to always tell you the truth about what it’s like to fight this cancer.


11 Responses to Urgency

  1. We’re here to absorb your truth, accept it and receive it no matter what. I wish you had more answers, more foresight… but none of us do. All we can do is be awake to inspiration – and you make us all conscious with your words. ALL of your words.

    xoxo just love this morning, just love.

  2. Sweetie.


    We are here for you, praying for you.


    xo CGF

  3. Imstell says:

    Susan, I know the ever-present specter of cancer or it’s recurrence brings into extremely sharp focus the transient nature of our lives. It sucks. That low-level, white noise hum of your internal voice chanting “hurry, get it done while you still can, fit it all in before it’s too late.” The underlying stress of waiting for the other shoe to drop and KNOWING that it will… someday… even as you pretend it won’t.

    I know these things far too intimately. It does fade. Quicker than you would think. And that is the part where I get jealous. Sick isn’t it? I’ve moved beyond this stage for the most part (with the exception of the few weeks prior to every check up).

    For hand in hand with that hurried dread also comes brilliant colors, intense love, great appreciation and a daily joy of living that I’ve not experienced since I was a child. And that fades too…

  4. Stimey says:

    I think your worries are quite reasonable, although scary. And I think it does help to say them out loud (or write them). Always here for you.

  5. deb says:

    I imagine the thought and the fear of recurrence lives in every cancer patient’s mind. And you’re a very smart woman, I would guess you have done all the research and know the odds. I would do the same myself. I prefer to know what I’m up against. I don’t believe ignorance is bliss.

    Take care sweetie.

  6. JoC says:

    Ditto to what Kate said. I am here to absorb your truth, and listen to ALL of your words….

  7. Barb says:

    Thank you for your truth. You teach me so much and I admire your strength and your LIFE!

  8. I think we all appreciate your truth. Sure, sometimes it can be yucky, but it’s the truth. We walk this walk with you because we love you and “there, but for the grace of God…” (hope that makes sense :p).

    As you trudge thru the trenches, just know that not only have you helped ‘one’, as is always hoped for, Susan – you have helped SO many that you’ll probably never know!

    Please keep keeping it real. Honest. Raw. I appreciate you for that.


  9. Ally says:

    Poor you. It really does seem unfair to go through everything you have and still not have a guarantee. It’s okay to feel this way, and we’re here to listen when you want to vent. Sending you many hugs. xoxo

  10. Danielle says:

    I can’t pretend to understand what you are going through. I have no idea. I can promise to be hear and read. The truth is not always sunshine and rainbows.

  11. mo-wo says:

    Glad the blog still serves.

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