Here’s a little quiz for ya: if you just finished your cancer therapy regimen and you got to ring the bell and hug your nurses goodbye, are you finished with cancer? I’ll give ya a hint, you’re not. See, the ending of a therapy regimen means the beginning of the recovery process, and once that is finished and all your hair is grown back and you have energy again, it starts the waiting period.
I’ve been in the waiting period before, and it’s the worst. The recovery period is the best, you don’t have to go to the hospital and undergo treatment anymore, your energy increases every day, you can start living your life like you used to again. It’s aces all around. But eventually you fully recover (theoretically) and you’re left living your life just waiting for the day when you’ll get a call from your oncologist saying it’s time to come back in because the cancer is back. Never a good call. Actually, oncologists rarely call with good news. Write that one down.
I’ve been in remission before and it lasted about 8 months until I got scans that said it was time to resume therapy. Honestly I was elated. Living those 8 months knowing I still had a disease inside of me and all I could do to treat it was wait until something happened was worse than treatment. In treatment at least you’re fighting. In remission it can feel like you’re just waiting around for your number to be up. But I have a solution.
So recovery is great, right? You’re getting better, stronger, healthier, all that jazz. And waiting is the worst. You’re not getting any better, just waiting to inevitably get worse. So how do we phase out the waiting period? Get cancer again sooner? I guess if that’s your cup of tea then go microwave your head or something. But I have a better idea. Why not just keep the recovery period going? Forever.
Here’s my concept: we can constantly push ourselves to be better, right? To run further, eat healthier, drink less, have more fun, make more memories, be better parents/children/brothers/sisters/etc. And I would consider all of that to fall under the recovery umbrella, right? After all, you are getting better from the low that is cancer treatment. So why should the recovery period ever have to turn into the waiting period? If you let yourself become complacent and you stop improving, then you are simply taking the power out of your own control and leaving it up to fate to decide when things will turn south. You’re not longer creating positive change, you’re simply waiting for negative change to occur.
So here’s where I’m at. I just finished my last round of chemotherapy on Tuesday, which means that I’m starting out the recovery phase as we speak (or read, I guess). I have no interest in waiting again. I want my fate to forever be in my hands, not up to chance. I want to be able to create positive effects for my own body, the same way that cancer treatment does (if you ignore the fact that most treatment regimens are just controlled poison and are terrible for you besides that they kill cancer cells). So in order to do that, I have to strive to make myself healthier bit by bit, day by day, and trust that the cancer never comes back.
At first it’ll be easy. Napping to regain energy, eating more to regain strength, drinking more to make memories with friends. But as time goes on, napping turns into running and mindfulness, eating turns into lifting, and drinking turns into having cathartic experiences that make you feel alive. I want to push myself to never stop recovering, and hopefully never start waiting. Even this blog gives me power to find joy in striving to help others.
So I ask, will you join me? Recovering doesn’t mean hitting the gym every day. It means pushing yourself to be the opposite of what cancer is. It means finding joy in the little things, harnessing good energy, being the best version of yourself that you can be. It means doing the things that will lead you to living the most fulfilling life you can possibly attain. It honestly just means striving for happiness. And who doesn’t wanna be happy? Oscar the Grouch, I guess. Maybe the Grinch, but he turns nice in the end. How about Snape? He’s a depressing dude. Just don’t be Snape.