If you have had cancer, you are never cured. At best, you are in a long-term remission that might last the remainder of your life. Today, after a year of cancelations and COVID, I finally, I saw my oncologist. Got all the blood tests. They didn’t mangle my veins. It was nice coming home without major bruising. Then, I called the doctor’s zoom number when I got home. We chatted.
I said I was fine. That whatever pain I had was from the unhealed area of my breast-bone following heart surgery, but it is definitely bones, not breasts. My breathing issues have to do with dust, dog hair, and pollen and are an old, old story dating back to childhood. No pains, no coughing, nothing growing — that I know about, anyway.
“It has been ten years since your surgery,” he said. “That’s an important date.”
I nodded. “Yes. October 10, 2010. So last month was my ten-year anniversary.”
“You don’t have to come for regular checkups anymore,” he continued. “If you have any problems, are worried about something, you know where to find me. I will always see you. But you are now, officially, a survivor.”
We hung up the call and I thought about it. It’s six years since the heart surgery, but I’ll never get away from that. Too many spare parts inserted during the surgery. But at least one thing is — for now — finished. I’ve survived two breast cancers and major heart surgery, not to mention spine surgery and so many other surgeries. And amazingly, I’m still here. Be damned if I know how or why because I’ve been so close to death so many times and yet I am alive. So what I want now is to survive this pandemic and die in my own time, from one of the many chronic ailments I already have. One of them is bound to take me out sooner or later.
I’m counting on later.