4 years in Remission
A lot can happen in four years! I changed jobs, got married and in the process of buying a house…and most noteworthy I AM FOUR YEARS IN REMISSION! One more year and I will be cured, i.e. after five years of being in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma one is considered cured.
The first piece I wrote in January 2015 described my journey from diagnosis into remission. So let’s pick up there…
In my first piece, I mentioned that once you are given the all clear, life doesn’t go back to normal. You are forever changed. To me, being in remission means there is still a chance of relapse. For the first year I had check-ups with my oncologist every 3 months and the last 3 years I have had it every 6 months. These check-ups consist of blood tests and a scan once a year. Scanxiety is a real thing. Roundabout the time of my yearly scans, I tend to become anxious, “what if the cancer has come back”, “what if they find something new”? And in November 2017 my fear of something popping up on my scan became a reality. My CT scan showed a new spot in my left breast. My oncologist wasn’t too concerned, but as a precaution suggested I have an ultrasound and biopsy as “lymphoma can develop in the breast tissue”. Great! Just the phrase I didn’t want to hear. I had the ultrasound and biopsy within the same week and on the same day as the biopsy got my result, All clear-It is fibroadenoma, a non-cancerous tumour.
Removal of my chemo-port
After 18months in remission, my oncologist said I should make an appointment with a general surgeon to have my chemo port removed. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to remove it at that point, “what if I needed it again”, “what if the cancer came back”. But I needed to believe that it wouldn’t come back and had the port removed in August 2015. This was another step on my road to recovery and healing. I also realised that my fear of relapse will never completely dissipate and that making the conscious decision to live my life was important.
As mentioned in my first piece, I reconnected with a primary school friend shortly after my diagnosis. He became such a great source of support to me during this time in my life. One thing led to another and we got engaged in September 2015. Since that piece we tied the knot and I couldn’t be happier. We had an intimate ceremony at the Simon’s Town Methodist Church surrounded by our closest family and friends. When I reflect on all that I had been through, it can only be described as the best day of my life. And now, almost a year later, we continue our journey together as we have just bought our first home.
In ending this piece, I would like to say that despite my fear of relapse, I try to remain positive about life. I have made a conscious effort to live life to the fullest, by ensuring I have balance. As well as making time for the things and people who matter most.
Only God knows what the future holds, and we continue to put our trust and faith in Him.
A word of thanks to Shaun Thomas from HPCA for asking me to reflect on my cancer journey thus far. Writing these pieces has given me an opportunity to sit down and reflect on where I am at in this journey.
With a few days leading up to Lace up for cancer 2018 event, this inspiring story of Genevieve Haupt Ronnie always reminds us at the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA) about why this event is so important to many people who have been affected by cancer. It’s the perfect platform to celebrate life together with others in the most beautiful setting!