This past week I had scare. I was feverish, fatigued, and convinced that the scar tissue in my neck was changing. As I slowly moved my fingers from one lymph node to the next, I had trouble differentiating between lumps and bumps and scarring. Beneath the skin lies what was once was a battle field. What used to be filled with cancerous tumors is now scar tissue, which serves as a reminder of what was and what is.
As time passes, my scars change -- the ones that I can see and feel, and the ones that lie beneath. Keeping up with those changes can be daunting.
My encounter this week with fatigue and fever led me into a tail-spinning panic.
What if the cancer is back?
What if... What if... What if...
The what if's were starting to overpower my ability to be present.
I have worked hard to be present.
I decided that I would rather have them open me up and look inside than to be left wondering-what if...
As I coated my belly with barium, and wrapped myself in a cocoon of warm blankets, I breathed in, one, two, three, four, five -- and out, one, two, three, four, five, six.
As I entered the CT scan, overwhelmed with fear, determination, and hope, it became clear that even if cancer has left my body, it has not left my mind.
The following morning I was told that my scans were still clear.
As I breathed a deep sigh of relief, it became all the more evident that this post-treatment chapter is a constant balancing act between sickness and health. Like my disease, I now live somewhere in that grey zone.
As I continue to live in the here and now, in between the black and white, in between the sunlight and shadows, I have some decisions to make. Every day I have the choice to either let fear overpower my present or to let determination and hope guide my future.
Every day, I have the choice to let myself be defined by the disease, or to live in spite of it.
And every day I have the choice to retreat into what was, or to accept what is.
I choose today. I choose now. I choose hope.
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