It's no different with cancer. The second time around is just not the same. The first time around it was just something to get through, something to get past. All the chemo, the radiation, the mouse cells that upped my pain threshold about a thousand-fold. They were all just hurtles to jump, and at the end of the obstacle course was a land without cancer.
The first time around, you can believe that.
The first time around you don't know that it's forever. And no matter how many clues there are on the way--the endless scans, the treatments that go on so much longer than the disease appears to be hanging around. But you still believe that it's gone, and it's not coming back.
But the second time around...The second time around is different. Now you know: it's back, and it's probably not going anywhere. I mean, I believe that I will get back to clean scans. I think I am probably there now. But I will never be without cancer. I may have known that before, but now I feel it to be true. And feeling it is so much heavier.
What I don't know is how to live with it. How do I make a life where I am dealing with this disease all the time? How do I live and work and go through treatment at the same time? I feel like everyone expects me to disappear for a while and come back fixed. Maybe that's my imagination, maybe that's what I want to believe is possible, but it's not going to happen. I am going to have to figure out how to live the life I want to live while getting treatment and finding new ways to keep my disease in check. And that's maybe the hardest, maybe the scariest thing I've had to deal with yet.