When I was first told that I was in remission following a six-month long course of chemotherapy, I held up a glass of wine and raised a toast to my cure – bursting with excitement that my nightmare was over! And even though it literally physically hurt to drink that celebratory glass of cabernet, I put it away like a champ … eager to get back to good health.
One month later, my PET/CT scans revealed something. “It’s probably nothing,” is what I was told. Then, for 19 months, I was haunted by “probably nothing.” I told myself, “I’m in remission,” over and over again as I moved through a series of failed biopsy procedures and surgeries – chanting those words as though they were a mantra I could will into being. And at the end of those 19 months, I was told that they had been wrong all along. No remission for me. I had primary refractory Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
We’re all familiar with that relationship status, “It’s Complicated.” Some refer to it as synonymous with a slut, drama mama or simply a passive aggressive way to tell your special someone: shit ain’t going right. Well, if I was dating remission, and I kept updating my relationship status to reflect the true vagueness and instability of our on-again-off-again-love-hate reality, I’d quickly develop a reputation for myself as a cancer hoodrat. For me and remission … it’s complicated.
“Are you in remission?” is commonly the first question posed by someone who hasn’t seen me for a while. And I’ve been know to respond with “sure,” or else find a distraction to evade a direct answer. But I think from now on, I’m going to start saying: It’s complicated. Period.
Everyone out there knows that if there’s any uncertainty, it’s best to change the privacy setting on your relationship status to be viewed by “Only Me.” And that’s what I want to do – allay the discomfort of airing out anxiety and putting the sting of my heartache on blast … because the truth is, I get mixed news about my health all the time. They’re always finding something that may or may not be significant. This is the life of this cancer patient. This is my life. I don’t need remission to tell me when to start living. Whatever my status, I’m living every minute like a Jade Gangster!