Wednesday, October 21, 2009


It has been a momentus week so far.  Yesterday I finally reached the end of my third year of Cancer Freedom!  That's just an awkward way of saying it's been three years since I finished treatment for Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  Today I had my Well-Check with my Oncologist and was given a Clean Bill of Health.  Bloodwork results are normal.  My overall health is normal.  I am hideously normal - probably the only one in my family that is - and couldn't be happier about it!!!

These checkup visits are becoming rather mundane these days.  Dr. Villa walks into the exam room.  We hug.  She gives me my lab results before we even sit down just to get it out of the way.  Then she asks after the kids and Daddy-O before we get on to how I've been feeling.  Ultimately, we always manage to fit in some sort of small philosophical discussion in.  Today's topic was Remission.

This word has been bothering me for quite a while now.  Every time I read WhyMommy's posts on Mothers With Cancer or Toddler Planet I cringe at the mention of her being in "remission".  I've asked WhyMommy before why it is she refers to herself that way.  Wouldn't you know it...  It's because that's what her doctor told her. 

Here is my problem with remission - it sounds like a temporary state of affairs.  Remission makes me feel like the other shoe could drop at any moment.  It feels like a close cousin to that other re word - recurrence.
So I brought up WhyMommy and her annoying status of "in remission".  Turns out I am "in remission", too!
And here I thought I was "cancer-free."  Surprise! Surprise!  And not the good kind either.

After a moment or two of discussion I realized that it all comes down to semantics.

Dr. Villa glanced at me out of the corner of her eye, head cocked to the side.  "You don't think you're cured, do you?"

Uh... not anymore...  Actually, I've never thought I was.  I've always referred to myself as Cancer-Free and didn't delve any deeper than that.  Turns out that no doctor (the "worth their salt" was implied) would ever mention cured until the 5 year mark.  Yeah.  I knew that.

So, just to be clear, here is the definition of Remission as taken straight from

a temporary or permanent decrease or subsidence of manifestations of a disease.
a period during which such a decrease or subsidence occurs: The patient's leukemia was in remission.
Note: The term remission is often used in speaking of sufferers from leukemia or other cancers whose symptoms lessen or disappear. In such a case, the disease is said to be “in remission.” The period of remission may last only briefly or may extend over several months or years.
 I still think it sounds pretty ominous to me!  But I guess I'll forgive all doctors in general - just this once.


In other completely unrelated news, Ben sent his first love letter over the weekend.  Via email.  (It's the wave of the future, folks.  I hear it's really catching on!) 

He is only nine. years. old!  We're talking about a single digit age!  Sheesh!  I thought I had at least another year or two. 

At the risk of completely alienating him in the future, I am sharing his email with you because I am so touched by the damned sweetness of the whole thing.  And also the horror!

''Hay Olivia,don't tell anybody this it's a seacret'',Ok here i go ''i LOVE YOU Olivia''.

Plus, did you notice there were not boxes to check?  No question of reciprocation?  Just a lot of putting himself out there like that.  Wow! Times sure have changed since I was a kid!


Anonymous said...

Love your site.
And congrats on your 3 year landmark

Patti Bradfield, President
The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation

WhyMommy (Susan) said...

Yippee! Three clean years! Yee-haw!

And yeah, the word bothers me some too. But for me, it's just a reminder to live each day with purpose ... and I do.

Sorry to worry you though ... this is all so new to me, and I've begun saying "cancer-free" too -- (although I'm not sure I always believe it.)

But oh, what a sweetie your son is!