One of the hardest parts of being a survivor’s wife is living in a world of what-ifs. What if the swollen lymph nodes are not because of strep throat? What if that rash isn’t just poison ivy? What if the cancer comes back? I worry every day that we won’t recognize the symptoms. I am constantly on alert.
Even in my heightened sense of awareness, there are certain times of the year that trigger what I would consider to be a near panic. One of those times is the couple of weeks leading up to a routine oncology appointment. When the office starts calling to remind my survivor about CAT scans and blood work , my anxiety begins to build. As the date of the appointment grows closer, my stress level climbs like a thermometer in August. What if the CAT scan comes back inconclusive and we have to wait for PET scan results? What if the blood work shows elevated levels?
Even harder than worrying is trying not to let it show. I’m supposed to be the strong one. I got us through three years of what-ifs. I should be able to handle waiting for a little appointment with our favorite doctor. For the most part, I think I’m being successful in managing it all, but then I find myself sleeping less at night and being more short-tempered with the kids. I have to remind myself that they don’t understand – they have no idea what is going on. They also survived such a difficult time in our lives, I owe it to them to protect them from the worry. Sometimes, I just have to take a step back, breathe and enjoy a nice glass of Riesling, all while refocusing my energies on what’s important.
We survived another oncology appointment today with a clean bill of health and for that I am eternally grateful. Now to tackle the next 6 months as a better person than I was yesterday…