Cancer Remission: Time to Breathe Again

Heal, Heal Fall 2021,

A survivor of prostate cancer celebrates the news that his cancer has not spread and describes how remission has made him feel.

Hallelujah! I got the best news possible this summer: My four-month blood test showed no spread of my aggressive prostate cancer. Remission is such a blessing— nearly seven years and counting!

This definitely calls for a celebration!

In the past, my wife and I celebrated these small victories over cancer with a steak dinner at my favorite restaurant. But COVID-19 put a kibosh on that for well over a year, and we were forced to mark the occasion with drive-through burgers and fries at McDonald’s.

Just keeping things simple, you know.

But hey, a celebration is a celebration on this bumpy road called cancer. And best of all, a welcome break from the grip of this deadly disease brings me newfound freedom. I am:

  • Free to breathe more easily.
  • Free to enjoy life.
  • Free to pamper myself.
  • And free to thank those helping me on my own journey.

So, you might wonder, do I live a charmed existence now? Most definitely not! Am I totally anxiety-free? Heck no! Do I worry now and then? An emphatic yes! But the crushing weight of “what-ifs” have been lifted from my soul—for now.

Naturally, any cancer survivor can relate to these nagging “what-ifs.” Here are some common examples:

  • What if the cancer has spread and I need chemo?
  • What if treatments leave me so fatigued that I can’t follow my passions?
  • What if the cost of care bankrupts me and my family?
  • What if I’m entering the final chapter of my life?

Well, for the time being, with no evidence of disease, I can set aside these troublesome what-ifs and replace them with some tantalizing “how-cans.” For example:

  • How can I squeeze joy out of every single moment?
  • How can I put my anxiety in its place once and for all?
  • How can I turn off the cancer-themed tape recorder in my head?
  • How can I find a greater purpose?

Skeptics may ask if I have truly turned the corner from “what-ifs” to “how-cans.” Well, the proof is in the pudding:

I now rest better, and my appetite has improved. I have learned to turn off the news and spend my leisure time watching stand-up comedy and silly sitcoms.

I now say “yes” to invitations for outings and visits to loved ones, rather than staying home awaiting the next test results (It helps that we’re all fully vaccinated in my inner circle).

I now devote my time to helping others, serving as a cancer advocate and paying it forward one phone call or text at a time.

So, friends, while I’ll always be a tiny bit on guard for the next wave of bad cancer news, I can exclaim in this glorious moment:


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