Last winter I surveyed my community, asking "How would your life be different if you didn't have to worry about cancer recurrence?" The response was incredible: the highest response rate for any survey I've conducted. The comments about what survivors like you were afraid of touched me to the core.
Even if my cancer does return and even if it does eventually kill me, I won't spend the rest of my life in fear. And maybe someday I'll actually believe what I've just written. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.
I wish that during those dark days, I had access to a book that so well articulated not only how I felt, but also how I could actually come to change my viewpoint. It took me years to begin a proactive path of psychological and spiritual healing.
Yes, surviving cancer takes the sting out of bad hair days and flat tires, but it also creates a sort of hyper-vigilance with regard to potential suffering -- whether on dates, at work, or even at a family meal.
My focus went completely to doing what needed to be done to make sure the situation did not spiral out of control. I was scared. I was furious. Looking back, the cold-bloodedness was far less about being self-protective than it was about staying focused on the mission and keeping the fear at bay.