The best part about being done with treatment is that people are no longer uncomfortable around me.
When you are in treatment and you tell people you have cancer they look at you with pity. Friends ask how things are going with a lowered voice. They don’t know how sensitive you are.
How are things with your health?
When you tell new people (e.g., co-workers, new friends) about the cancer they are obliged to say something like,
Oh, I am so sorry. How are things going?
But now, even though I still have cancer cells in my brain, I am out of treatment and am in the “watch and wait” mode. What does that make me? A survivor, I guess. I survived treatment and am living with the cancer. And people love good stories.
So now my friends celebrate the end of my treatment, and new friends (made after cancer) only know me as a survivor, like I’m some sort of badass.
I feel like a fraud because I didn’t really do anything. I just said “OK” to surgeons who removed bulk tumor and “OK” to doctors prescribing chemo drugs. I was a participant in the process.
The only thing I did was write this blog. And raise money for the National Brain Tumor Society. And volunteer with the NBTS Patient Support Network. And tell my story. And I don’t associate any of that with survivorship. I see that as me being me.
But at the end of the day, people now see me as a survivor of this and they are no longer uncomfortable, and that makes my life easier. I can talk more freely about cancer without bumming people out because I am not in treatment.
I’m a cancer survivor.
I feel bad for the people who know the truth, though. People like Brett, Bob and Mel who know that I still have cancer and that it will never go away.
(Unless some crazy miracle happens.)