Thursday, November 10, 2011

Little by Little

This past Tuesday night was an unusual one for me. After a brief night out with my friend, Jonny and his boyfriend (Jonny is a fellow cancer survivor) I came home, played some Mario Kart and read an essay from The Sun magazine before turning in. I had no trouble falling asleep even though I had a regular check-up with my oncologist the following morning.

In the past year and a half since I have been cancer-free (like, normal!), these appointments have been a source of minor to moderate anxiety. Especially the night before my visit. Though my body recovered well from my Time With Lymphoma, no telltale-swollen lymph nodes on my earthly vessel, I can’t help but consider that there might be something wrong the night before my check-up. Maybe my oncologist will tell me that something looked awry with my blood tests? Or that something unusual popped up on the chest x-ray or PET scans they have done to monitor my body? Because of these worrisome thoughts, I have often had trouble falling asleep on the night before these appointments. That’s why it’s slightly momentous to me that I slept peaceably this past Tuesday. A moment I can point toward to know that Life Without Cancer is getting easier.

A year ago, I contacted a fellow young Hodgkin lymphoma survivor through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s First Connection Program. His name is Mike. When I first contacted him, he had been lymphoma-free for three years. I was struggling with cancer survivorship at the time. I was freaking out about this tightness I felt in my chest in the area where my cancerous tumor used to be. I had grossly underestimated how difficult survivorship would be while I underwent my treatments. One of the things he told me during our long conversation that resonated with me was that survivorship would get easier with time. Though I didn’t have the personal experience to comprehend that then, I knew what he said would reveal itself to be true in time.

And it has.

Little by little.

I was smiley when I stepped out of Ward 86 after my check-up. Before I descended its front steps, I looked out over the Mission District, the Sutro Tower off in the distance. The city was aglow beneath the afternoon sun. If I had the grace, balance, and moxie, I could have performed a ditty of a dance on those steps before I walked over to my bicycle (think musical or Jeff Bridge’s dance number in The Big Lebowski). Months ago, it would have been an unfathomable notion, but I had arrived at a point where I kind of looked forward to these visits (minus all the time in the waiting room). I love receiving good news about my health. Delight from that reminder that I am alive and well.