(Facts updated 2016.)
1997/1998 was over. My year of treatment was behind me.
I expected to be relieved, yet it wasn’t so. My initial reaction was one of fear. I felt as if I had stopped fighting the disease that had threatened my life.
Then common sense—and faith—prevailed. It wasn’t me that had been fighting. Nor was it my medical team. The Lord had used each person to bring me this far, and He wasn’t about to give up on me. When I was born, He allocated a certain number of days to me, and cancer had not changed the statistics.
For the next two years I had to have blood tests every three months and visit my oncologist for a thorough examination. After two years, this became every six months for another two years. Finally, I had to have the tests once a year. In addition to the blood tests, I faced an annual mammogram for the rest of my life plus a chest x-ray, ultrasounds of my breasts and abdomen, and a bone scan every year for the foreseeable future.
For the next eight years, I had to continue to take Tamoxifen, an anti-oestrogen medication. I still had my A-port that was inserted at the beginning of treatment to facilitate chemotherapy.
“We’ll keep it for the moment,” said my oncologist. “We may well need it again.” That didn’t make me happy. There was certainly no way I could forget my cancer battle.
My heart sank at the gloomy prognosis that hung over my life. Would I ever be free of this diagnosis? I knew I would not. Once a cancer survivor, always a cancer survivor. I could never wipe the disease from my history. I resolved to leave the future up to God.
I decided I would do all I could within reason to avoid a repetition of cancer, and I would certainly pray that it would never return. But I was not going to let the threat of a recurrence ruin my life. Somehow, I had to learn to live in the present. It wasn’t easy.
I’m updating this article well into 2016, over 18 years after my diagnosis of cancer, and the surgeon’s prediction that I wouldn’t last a year. I still try to live life sensibly and help my immune system to keep me healthy. And of course, I still have an annual check-up that includes a minimum of tests. But cancer doesn’t rule my life.
Don’t let it rule yours either!
Loving Father, thank you for all you’ve done to help me through this horrible time. I admit that I’m often afraid of the future. I’m so scared that it will come back. I don’t think I could face having to go through this again. Yet right now I have life. I will never forget my history with cancer, nor should I. But please help me to live the present to the full, and leave my future in your hands. Amen.