Remission Is Just A Word That Makes Other People Feel Better
I see you with your sad eyes. I don't know if you’re still "sick" or in remission. Those of us who've had cancer know that remission is just a word that makes other people feel better. We know that it really means no evidence of disease. It doesn't mean we are cured.
We walk around, some of us fumbling more than others. I was one of those emotional wrecks wearing my emotions on my sleeve writing about it and sharing about it. I was yelling out to the world, “Yes, I have had stage 3 cancer, and here I am.” I hated the thought of people whispering and wondering, so I was not aloof. I beat them to the crappy cancer punch line. I'm not sure which one you are, tripping and stumbling or walking the straight and narrow.
I see you with your furrow – that wrinkle that never goes away when your life consists of doctors’ appointments and chemo. I see you weeping in the dark when you think everyone is asleep. I used to think I was the only one awake in the middle of the night. I still don't sleep but that is because I have other battles to fight. Funny how life can be ironic (or is it?), giving more grief to some and only joy to others? Is it because we can handle it? Or, is it because they cannot?
I stopped writing about cancer because I was starting to feel content with my head in the sand for 89 days until my next blood work and PET scans. I still feel content not thinking, writing or talking about it. I have a daughter with a chronic disease – the kind of disease that is 24-hours a day for the rest of her life unless they find a cure. It is the kind of disease that nobody understands until they have it, just like mine was. It's the kind of disease where the medicine that keeps her alive is the same medicine that could kill her, and I always have to have my game on. A person can only do so many honest truths in one day, so this is the one I choose. But still...
I see you wanting to hide among the crowds of all those shiny, happy people. I, too, spent many days doing the same. But now I am getting better at faking it until I make it because I have a daughter who needs me to be here, and to be one of those shiny, happy people too. I never was the girl who lit up the room. I find some overly shiny, happy people fricking annoying and fake as hell. But I do like to laugh loudly and inappropriately, and I am drawn to people with substance and sad eyes. So maybe in my own way when I laugh too loud or make some sarcastic offensive joke, I, too, appear to be shiny and happy in my own distorted way.
I used to count the ages of my children now to when and if it came back, like a mathematical equation I would plug in "if" – if this f***ing disease came back for me again with a vengeance to take me out, what would be the age that they could best heal their hearts? How much time could I buy? Would they forget me?
I see you, and I know you have some of those thoughts about buying time and keeping your children safe. You feel alone in a sea of people. You sometimes dream of cutting off those annoying ponytails because she will probably not live to grow one again. I see you, and I feel guilty because today I am one of those girls. Today I am NED (no evidence of disease), and I am playing the role of survivor very well. Just know that I see you, and I wish I could tell you it's going to be alright. But I know that might not be true, so I say nothing. I just look you in the eyes and smile, saying nothing because sometimes in a sea of words there really is nothing good to say, except I see you.