Is it possible to ever be free of cancer? The mutated cells can be erradicated, health can return, life can move forward, but the grip cancer holds in my mind will remain. The fear that it could come back. That I must be on my guard, on the lookout for signs.
Thoughts and fears are only that: narratives I frame within my mind. I must train my brain to accept those dark thoughts and imagined scenarios. To tell myself that I am not my thoughts. Try to let go of fears of the unknown. Acknowledge them and let them pass. Try to replace them with dreams and visualizations of a future where I am here to watch my children grow. To enjoy life.
Then there is the ever-present pressure to appreciate every moment and be grateful. Pressure to make some sort of positive impact with the life that, before modern advancements in treatment, would have been cut short.
A diagnosis of HER2 triple-positive breast cancer means that hormone therapy treatments will continue to the five-year mark and beyond—that mark of five years that is so significant in the cancer world. A mark in the future where I dream and envision myself announcing to the world, “I am cancer free!”
I carry cancer with me every day. Even if it is no longer in my body. Some days the weight is heavier. Cancer doesn’t define me, but it is now a part of who I am. The imprint left, for better or worse, until death do us part.