Wednesday, August 15, 2018

5 Years Later: ‘Cancer Free’

The Cancer Journey
“Der mentsh tut hofen biz er vert antshlofen.”
Yiddish saying

Cancer Free After 5½ Years
Photo Credit:
©2018. Perry J. Greenbaum

My oncologist gave me some very good news yesterday; we were discussing my latest and last CT scan. The good doctor (Dr. R.), sitting across me, first looking at the computer screen and then at me, said: “It’s five years and you are cancer free. How are you feeling”? I said, “In fact, very good. With this news, even better.” Indeed, I am one of the fortunate 64% of Canadians who are around five years later.

This is the news I was waiting to hear since I was first diagnosed in December 2012. Five-and-a-half years after being diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer, after surgery, after chemo treatments, and after post-chemo complications (CIPN) that persist, I am (finally) feeling good. You can read about the struggles, the ups and downs, the emotional roller-coaster, in “My Cancer Posts, 2012–2013.” It is a familiar journey to those who have had cancer, and yet each individual, no doubt, has his or her own story.

Other than a colonoscopy, which I have to do this year and which is a normal routine for most people my age, I will now be free of the years of medical tests and interventions. Truly, I never want to see the inside of a hospital. They are in many ways depressing places, despite the greater good they do, and despite how dedicated doctors and nurses are. Yet, it is one of those things; having a disease like cancer colors your views in many areas of life.

Even so, I want with great desire to return to a life that I love and know., a life that resonates with me. My plan is to both regain my life and rebuild my life to some semblance of normal. This includes gainful employment in doing what I know and love: writing; there is also, in my view, the necessity to have more enjoyable times with friends and family, and of course to pursue more healthy eating and living.

Not all these factors have been present in the last five-and-a-half years, at least not in sufficient degree. You see, cancer disrupts life, including the normalcy of family life. It makes other things more urgent, most notably, survival. Normalcy of life is what I seek; normalcy is what I want; normalcy is what I am working towards. Now with this good news under my belt this can and hopefully will lead to a good and better life in the near future. The sooner the better.

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