It was just a chapter, not the end

So we now have the results of the most sensitive test my husband could have gotten, a PET scan, and it turns out that it will close the chapter of the last 18 months of our lives.

He has no signs of cancer anywhere in his body at all. What’s more, as a result of this finding, he will most likely be ending chemo (hopefully the round he’s finishing will be the last, fingers crossed.) And he met with a surgeon today who told him he’s a great candidate to have his colostomy reversed and his hernia repaired. He may have that surgery as soon as six weeks from now and he has to be off of one of the chemo drugs for at least 30 days before he can safely have surgery, so chemo is probably done or likely will be after the next.

This is all great news, of course. It makes me feel a little less pressured to develop a successful business or advance in my career to a point that I could support myself as soon as possible. (Now I just have to fight against my natural tendencies toward procrastination.) He’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Yet for as happy as this should make me, it doesn’t make me feel much of anything at all. When I told my mom shortly after we got the news, she said she couldn’t stop crying out of joy and relief. And yet I still mostly feel numb.

In a weird way, I’d compare the cancer chapter of our lives to the time my middle son was hit by a car. During the aftermath of that event, I was just constantly in “go mode.” I didn’t stop long enough to process what we had been through. I’m still not sure that I ever processed it. It was too scary.

Cancer is much the same. I think that the reason I don’t feel much right now is that processing it is too scary. Staying numb is a protective measure.

There’s also the fact that cancer tends to come back. Fortunately, it’s slow-growing when it does return, but that doesn’t mean it will never return. I think about my aunt who died of melanoma; she beat it the first time, then went into remission for so many years that she thought it wouldn’t ever return. Of course, it did return and that time she ultimately couldn’t beat it.

So while I’m happy with the news that he’s cancer-free and feel like he got a miracle (one that his first oncologist thought was impossible), I still feel worried that it will come back. Hopefully it won’t come back for a really long time. I still feel shell-shocked by what we’ve been through. But regardless, I feel extremely grateful for the impending return to relative normalcy.

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