Thoughts of Cancer: Mind Over Matter

While it is obvious that we will think of cancer, it is how we do so that matters.

On any given day, cancer permeates my thoughts. In general, it varies depending on many factors. Is my sister in the hospital? Does she have a test that day? Is a scan right around the corner? I try my best to not let those thoughts happen too often, because in the last two-and-a-half years, cancer has taken a lot from us. It does not deserve to have anymore of my time than necessary.

In the first months after the diagnosis, our lives were run by the six-letter word. Uncertainty filled our world, and everything that we did was dictated by Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The fear that I felt in the beginning has become dulled by the knowledge that I chose to seek, and the anxiety that controlled my emotions is softened by the fact she is now eight months in remission.

Having gone through the journey of cancer, I know that life will never be the same. I could never go back to the person that I was then, and I am not sure that I would want to. Everyday things in life sometimes affect me in a slightly different way than they used to. Mundane moments occasionally become unforgettable memories because there was a time when I did not think my sister would be here to experience them.

While the idea of a recurrence is ever-present, the trick is to try to be optimistic. After all, we’ve done this before. If it is to happen again, we would have the upper hand. And even though my sister is in remission, she continues to battle relentless complications, though it is impossible to look at her without thinking about how far she has come and that, against all the odds, she is a survivor.

When she wants to do the most ordinary things, though, restrictions from the transplant she received in January pop up. We are reminded about how far we still have to go. The date of Jan. 14, 2019 is circled on my calendar, because it is only then when we will hear the word “cure” from her doctors.

In the end, I think that it is mind over matter, no matter how bad a day she may have, and no matter how many times she may return to an emergency room from a fall due to neuropathy. Every monthly blood test or PET/CT scans verify that we are still winning. She is cancer-free. And while it is obvious that we will, at times, think of cancer, I think that it is how we do so that ultimately matters.