Graduation Day

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Today I had my six-month follow-up with my oncologist. This is my regular check-in with him that includes blood work and a physical exam.

While these appointments are routine, they kick my anxiety in high gear. My oncologist is very busy, so I always end up nervously playing solitaire on my phone while waiting on him to come into the exam room. Those minutes tick by very slowly–all the bad news scenarios race through my mind, and I have flashbacks of sitting in that room during my first appointment after diagnosis. I think about how hard his job is. While there’s certainly the high of literally saving people’s lives on a regular basis, he’s also the bearer of really bad news on more occasions than I’d like to imagine. It must be tough.

But today’s visit was a good one for both of us. He let me know my blood work looked great, and when I brought up the ongoing back/hip pain I’ve been experiencing for the past few months, he said arthritis or perhaps some degenerative disc pain was the likely culprit, but ordered an x-ray just to be on the safe side. While an arthritic hip would mean I’m just an AARP discount away from full-on old ladyhood, I’m really hoping that’s the problem.

As we wrapped things up, he told me I could start seeing him on a yearly basis. This is a big deal. I’ve graduated from every two weeks to every couple months to every six months, and now, just once a year. My schedule no longer revolves around cancer. My doctor’s appointments no longer fill my calendar. I feel so very…normal.

As I drove home, I had a little talk with myself. I have a bad habit of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Since my diagnosis, I’ve felt like bad news was around every corner. I’ve had some scares and disappointments, but for the most part, things turned out pretty damn well for me.

Yet the nervous Nelly inside me can’t help worrying that something bad is going to happen. The cancer will return. It will spread. I will die. I won’t be here to raise my son. This is is the fear I live with every single day.

But I realized today that I can’t keep living like this. Just like I came to terms with my diagnosis, I need to come to terms with the fact that I’m OK. Right now, I’m OK. I can’t control the future, and worrying about it isn’t going to prevent anything bad from happening.

So, that’s where I am now. I’m going to focus on living one day at a time, and today happens to be a very good day.

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