“So how are you doing?”… Do you really want to know?

Remission does not always mean recovery. I read an article recently about how life after cancer can be difficult for survivors, but everyone thinks since the cancer battle is over, you are fine.
But here we are, years later, still putting pieces together. All of us survivors.
Never considered “in remission” or “cured”. Just NED: “no evidence of disease” {insert “right now”}.
My life is very different from most. I just don’t even think about what life would be like without constant tests, bloodwork, scans and worries. Most women my age have calendars booked with family, friends, outings, vacations… I have those too, but they are scheduled around doctor’s appointments, tests, scans and procedures.

I get the question, “are you doing well now?” I sometimes don’t know how to answer.

Physically: I don’t have cancer. That’s the important part. That’s what they want to hear. But I do have residual effects that most cancer patients have, but won’t tell you about. Because after all… It’s not cancer so we know we are lucky.

Emotionally: I don’t have cancer. I should be thrilled. I am a happy person. But sometimes it’s assumed that once you make it through something like cancer, everything else is a piece of cake. Let me tell you. Some things are harder than cancer.

Financially: I don’t have cancer. So the medical bills should be gone right? It’s like college, you are paying it off for years. And the constant tests just add more and more.

Family: I don’t have cancer. So we should all be falling right back into place. Living a full life. Except that there is somewhat of a paralyzing fear of “what if”. Decisions are made based on “what if”. Loved ones struggle to move on because the trauma of what happened is difficult to come to terms with and the fear of “what if” keeps them from being able to move on. Cancer affects the whole family. Sometimes being helpless while you watch your loved one come close to death is too much to handle. They put on brave faces too. No one asks how they are doing.

Friendships: I don’t have cancer. My friends are thrilled and supportive and amazing! Cancer brings new friends, which is great! But they didn’t know me before cancer. They didn’t know how different I was then, how worry-free I was. They didn’t know the me that wasn’t scarred inside and out. And many of those friends who I knew before cancer have moved on with their lives. I lost years it feels like. I’m just now putting pieces together but I feel like I’m playing a different game than they are.

So when I’m asked “how are you now?” I say “I’m good thanks!” Mainly because it would take too long to say all of this.