If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, seemingly innocuous words or phrases take on a completely different meaning. In my world, words like remarkable, and radical are terrifying! Here’s my top five list of words that might make a cancer patient shout out for joy or quiver in fear:
Unremarkable: This is the second most coveted word. If it’s typed in our scan reports, we celebrate, we call our family, our friends to tell them just how fantastic it feels to be unremarkable. Nothing remarkable means no tumors, NONE. It usually precedes the most coveted three letters of anyone with cancer, N. E. D. (No Evidence of Disease)
Suspicious: Dreaded like none other. Instant thoughts? The cancer is back, the cancer has grown, they’re not quite sure, so I could be doomed, or it could be scar tissue, I’ll need more scans, different scans, maybe a biopsy….
Radical: Until I had a radical mastectomy, this was always a positive word. Living on the edge in life? You’re radical! No longer the case after “breast malignancy”, now radical resounds as an aggressive way of removing a breast.
Bruise: A memory from some rough housing? Not any more! With an angiosarcoma diagnosis, any small bruise can signal a recurrence. Every single time I look in a mirror, I see a dreaded bruise, and without fail, I assume that it’s cancers flag planting itself in all it’s purple glory.
Take a deep breath and hold it: Anyone who has had a CT scan has had a lovely computer simulated voice utter this phrase. It’s the very last action we take before we are bombarded with the ionizing radiation that will reveal the extent to which we are remarkable…or unremarkable. It represents the crescendo of scanxiety. Holding your breath while your life literally hangs in the balance? Agonizing