lördag 17 oktober 2015

Does the Fear Ever Go Away?

I read this post on an English Facebook page. It's very thoughtful!
This is a question my mum asked me last night and to be honest, I don’t know if the fear will ever really leave.

When I was diagnosed, I was told this cancer was permanent. Not terminal, permanent. That meant unless I had a Bone Marrow Transplant, I would pop pills for the rest of my life to keep the cancer at bay. Sounds tedious, doesn’t it?

I accepted the new condition to my life pretty easily. I really didn’t want a transplant, but I also wanted to live a long life, so I popped pills every day. It wasn’t so bad… Okay I lie. It was HORRIBLE! I felt nauseous every second of the day, I had bone pain that felt like my bones were trying to break and I was so flipping tired. So I would dose myself up on Zofran, Codeine and take a nap, praying when I woke up again, I would be feeling okay. (That never happened, but I kept my hopes up!)

With this in mind, who would want to live every day like this, for the rest of their lives? Not much of a life… So when mum harassed the doctors enough to reduce my dose of Glivec (chemo-like drug) and a few years later, convince the Oncologist to take me off the drug completely, of course I was keen! (Albeit at the same time, terrified… I mean, this drug was keeping me alive!)

But one month before my hip replacement, and after one year of having near continuous 0.000 detectable cancer cells in my blood, I stopped my life support. This was scary, but liberating. Would I finally feel like a normal teenager? My chances were slim. In one study, 2/3 of people who stopped the drug, relapsed in the first 6 months. I didn’t like my chances of staying off the drug, but we were forever hopeful.

Now 17 months later, I am still off Glivec. I still have no detectable signs of cancer! Go me! But, that doesn’t stop one from worrying every day that maybe; the cancer has come back… Every single body ache, every time I feel sick, every time I feel excessively tired, or I’m just not hungry; I just can’t help but worry. It may seem a little unreasonable to the general public, but for someone who has stopped a drug that shouldn’t be stopped… it’s a perfectly reasonable worry.

I’ve come to learn that the symptoms I have are perfectly normal for a teenager. I’ve come to learn that not every ache and pain is related to me having had cancer. However, even with that in mind, it still doesn’t stop the worry that one day I might have to start that horrid medication again. I mean come on; I have lived more in the past 17 months whilst off the drug, than I ever did in the 5 years combined while I was on it. I’ve now had a taste of the good life and you can’t blame me for wanting to keep it that way.

So I guess my question is; will I ever stop worrying? How many months or years need to pass before the cancer fear no longer takes precedence in my mind? Will it ever really pass? Or will it always be a niggle in the back of my mind?

I want to travel more; I want to move overseas and never have to worry about the cancer ever coming back. I don’t know if that will ever be possible…

But I guess only time will tell.

Maddison Smith

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