Sometimes the mind is cruel.
I am a naturally optimistic person, positive and perhaps a little strong-willed, but I am human and the dark side of my mind can still plant cruel thoughts into my head.
In January I was to the oncologist for my 6 month check up and declared (once again, though it never gets old) cancer free. My bloodwork and internal exam were both good, and they even had the additional information of a CT scan of my abdomen (from when I had a bowel blockage blip after surgery in August) showing things beautifully clear of any cancer concerns. I should have been skipping out of the Cancer Centre riding high on a wave of euphoric gratitude for a long and healthy life ahead, but I didn’t feel that way. I felt somehow dissatisfied, restless, and ill at ease, sending messages of forced enthisiastic joy that I was cancer free. When I paused to ask myself what was wrong and bothering me (this was not like me to have to force joy over people-pleasing my oncologist) the answer resonated soundly in my mind. It came in the form of the question “but did they do the white glove test?!”.
I won’t pretend to tell you that I would ever want to hear the words ” we found cancer“, ever again, but sadly that was almost more believable than ” you are cancer free“. At least when they found it we knew it had been found and what we were dealing with. Being told I am cancer free always leaves an inkling of doubt and fear, no matter how small, as to whether they really looked everywhere or could there be some malicious little cells in hiding in the one place they didn’t look.
The CA125 bloodwork test they do for ovarian cancer is not a great test for it, but the best they currently have in combination with trans-vaginal ultrasounds. My highest number on the CA125 test was 13, they don’t consider it a red flag, even for a BRACA1 patient with high risks, until it reaches 35. This last test showed my level at 8 (still well below the 35), but up from 6 on my last test. I have no logical reason for fear and doubt to cross my mind, but it does. Nobody was expecting them to find cancer when they did the preventive surgery either, but (thankfully) the white glove test provided by the pathologist did find it. (Not thankfully that it was there to be found, but that when it was there they did find it) We were early and aggressive with the cancer that tried to wreck havoc with my body. The 2 year mark without recurrance for ovarian cancer is the significant one, as I am told by my oncologist. There is no logical reason for me to be afraid, and to even admit those fears is difficult to do as we so often hear “what you think about comes about“. How does one that was once feeling perfectly healthy get over that fear that, once again, they might hear those 3 awful words again “we found cancer”.
Maybe, for me, this is the difference between having faith and looking for scientific proof that something does, or does not, exist. It is having faith that the white glove test would also come back with nothing. Some days that faith is stronger than others, but I think admitting to the fear at least helps me to move forward with finding a way to strengthen my faith in a long and healthy life. It helps me to understand my my mind is still feeling a little agitated. And it reminds me of the work that continues to be necessary, every single day, to strengthen my faith.
Today my wish for you is that you have and strengthen your own faith to conquer those personal and cruel thoughts that may have seeped into your own mind, that you may be victorious over them and find your mind instead filled with authentic joy and gratitude for this and every day, with or without the white glove test.
With love, Glenna