As well as being a cancer blogger, Laura Yeager is a religious essayist and a mental health blogger. A graduate of The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, she teaches writing at Kent State University and Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Laura survived cancer twice.
Today, I drove into McDonald’s to buy a cup of coffee before work. As usual, I went through the drive-through, turning off my radio as I ordered a medium black coffee, talking clearly into the speaker. When I got to the first window to pay, the employee said, “How are you?”
“I’m OK,” I said confidently. The “OK” rang in my ears. This McDonald’s employee didn’t know the importance of her question.
The question was of great consequence because I’d just recently had another cancer scare. For weeks, I’d been having pain in my ribs below my left breast, and my general practitioner wanted to rule out bone cancer, so he had prescribed a total body bone scan.
Then, I had to wait two weeks to get the results. I just found out yesterday that I was cancer-free.
Those two weeks were rough. I felt as though I was surrounded by doom that I couldn’t shake. Why was I always dealing with a cancer scare? It was a hell of a way to live.
Should I just ignore aches and pains and lumps and splotches? After having had cancer twice, it seemed impossible to ignore these things. My doctor empathized with me saying, “I bet you feel like a walking time bomb.”
This cliché seemed to capture something very important about my life. I never knew when, or if, I was going to “explode” with another bout of cancer.
But starting today, I’m going to relax. I have to or I’ll go stir crazy. There has to be a point at which one says, “You’re going to make it. There’s going to be no more cancer.” I’ve reached that point.
Living with optimism is much better on the body than living with fear and pessimism.
My husband’s cousin, Mary, has stage 4 breast cancer. She is completely convinced she is going to beat it.
If Mary can be optimistic, so can I.
Bless that girl at the McDonald’s window. She asks hundreds of people how they are day after day. What an important question! And day after day, she gets a variety of replies.
“Not so good today.”
I said, “OK,” and I truly meant it.
I am OK, and I’m going to try to keep it that way; goodbye paranoia, fear and pessimism. Hello, life-affirming positivity.
I feel better already.