Walking Through Cancer?/Part 6

                                          “It’s a fluid situation.”

The limbo I’ve been in for half a year has been a challenging test for me. A test of dealing with the gray areas in life—the ambiguities— where we want answers to a problem but don’t get them, and we find ourselves at the mercy of our coping abilities.

There was a time when I would fold in like an accordion at the first sign of frustration or depression. If I was unhappy  about anything, I tended to run away. Just retreated into various forms of self-punishment that provided numbness for a time. But that was another woman.

I’m glad I’ve evolved into someone stronger. Personal heartache has followed me much of my life, but no better or worse than anyone else’s. Yet I lacked the tools to deal with it effectively. Mired in victimhood and self-flagellation, my self-absorption buried me and isolated me from being the best person I could be. Able now to see my life through a different lens, recognizing what a privileged and fascinating life I’ve led, has opened my eyes and filled me with a sense of long-overdue gratitude.

Dr. Christina Poh met with us on Zoom a week after my second bone marrow biopsy. Gene and I sat side by side on the sofa, holding hands. No matter what she told us, we knew that we had each other. That, in itself, has been a tremendous blessing. I am so fortunate to see the silver linings manifesting themselves everywhere. There’s nothing like what I’ve been going through to sear into my heart what matters most in life. And now I have time to live that learned wisdom.

Her first words to me were, “Well, Marilea, it’s a fluid situation.”

“What does that mean, Dr. Poh?”

“It means that we don’t see cancer in any of your tests right now. Not in the two bone marrow biopsies, and not in the lymph node biopsy, reviewed by NIH, where they found nothing. We’d like to do another PET scan to see if there’s any change from the one you had in November. Maybe those results will give us some new information that will explain your symptoms and give us something more to work with. But for now—today—you are cancer-free and we can be glad of that.”

“God, what a relief!”

“Well, we’re not going to say you have cancer when we don’t see it. Chemotherapy is poison, and we can’t justify infusing you with it at this point.”

A fluid situation…meaning, yes, it could change. The earlier diagnosis of L-HES, for example, can progress to leukemia or lymphoma without proper treatment. So, am I home free? Maybe and maybe not. But I FEEL wonderful, no lack of appetite or weight loss. If ever there was a time to live in the moment, it’s right now.

The aborigines in Australia operate on two time zones: now and not now. I’ll take “now” for my happy reality and let “not now” reveal itself another day.

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