On Tuesday I had my annual check-up with my oncologist.
(Of course, I will mark and celebrate these nine years many times over the next several months. Nine years since my diagnosis. Nine years since my "port" was installed. Nine years since my chemo began. Nine years since my first clean scan. Nine years since the end of chemo. Because . . . really . . . there are so many anniversaries to "celebrate.")
Anyway. The appointment.
See you next year!
Other than the appointment being a Big Life Marker . . . it also made me realize something I never-ever imagined possible in those raw-and-shining days just out of chemo . . .
Having cancer is just not something I think about much anymore.
This is unfathomable to me.
I can go days now . . . maybe even weeks . . . without thinking about cancer or treatment or that I had it or worrying that it might come back.
I can hear about someone else (or someone's sister) (or someone's sister's ex-fiance's mother-in-law) (or someone who just happened to be a friend of someone's sister's ex-fiance's mother-in-law) (etc.) being diagnosed with cancer without that trap-door opening and sucking me down into the depths.
I can think . . . I am a nine-year cancer-survivor. And just be grateful for that -- without feeling guilty because of all the other cancer survivors who never made it to nine years.
I can allow myself to trust in a future again, as much as any of us can.
THIS IS A BIG DEAL.
I've passed some huge milestone of "survival" somewhere along the way to nine years. I'm not exactly sure when or where I did that . . . but I did. I'll never kid myself. My experience with a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma back in the fall of 2008 changed me . . . forever and for good.
I have no illusions.
I know that every day is a gift.
And that life can change on a dime.
But after nine years . . . I'm grateful that my annual oncology check-up is just routine for me now.
A real non-event.