by Nancy King
The outer trip to the oncologist’s office takes about fifteen minutes from my house. The inner journey, which has been going on for twenty-four years, continues. One can be in remission from leukemia, but there’s no knowing for how long. It can return, seemingly from one day to the next, with no warning except perhaps for unusual fatigue and weird sweating. I’ve learned to live with the uncertainty of remission by telling myself, “For the moment, all is well.”
Since being diagnosed with cancer I’ve gotten a lot of advice, most of it unasked for. Much of it makes me want to scream, or worse. I have been told: “Cancer is a gift.” “You have to have a positive attitude or you won’t get well.” “You’ve always taken such good care of yourself, how can you have cancer?” “If you dwell on the dark side you’re going to make yourself even more sick.” “What have you done to bring this on yourself?” “You’re lucky, they have medicine for the kind of leukemia you have.” It took me a long time to realize that most of their comments are fueled by their fear. Perhaps they think that acknowledging and facing the dark side of life is a trip from which there is no return. In my experience, it’s about discovering a healthy inner balance. I could not find my way back to life and light until I dealt with the dark side. It’s a scary journey but a return ticket is not only possible, it helps to create one’s new life.
Reading about people with cancer makes me wonder why it is that only positive thoughts are allowed.