1 and a Half Years Cancer Free
Last updated: May 2023
I am officially a year and a half cancer free and I really don't know how to feel. Part of me wants to jump for joy and celebrate every day, another part is terrified of celebrating because recurrence is possible, and a small part is just numb.
I will never forget my first scan that stated "no evidence of metastatic disease." I remember leaving the scan appointment and calling my mom to tell her I had a really good feeling. Something inside me just knew that my cancer was gone, but not until the report landed in my patient portal 2 days later did I get confirmation.
All clear scans
I'll admit I cried. My medical team had been so sure for the last 2 years that I would always have "something" on my scans. My celebratory mood was subdued very quickly because part of me figured it was probably a fluke or one-off. My next scan would have an enlarged lymph node somewhere. But the next one didn’t, and the next one didn’t and the one after that was clear too until a year later I had all clear scans.
An indescribable feeling
It is hard to describe what it feels like for my chart to officially state NED and it was very surreal when we decided I could stop treatment. After being told I had maybe 6 months left at diagnosis, to a possibility of several years, but in continuous treatment, all culminating to this, was unbelievable. I did take time to celebrate. There were margaritas, loud music, and plenty of laughter. How often can you say you beat what was supposed to be unbeatable?
Very quickly the pendulum swung and the happy tears turned fearful. I know my reality, a recurrence is very possible. At least when I was in treatment I felt like I was actively preventing my cancer from coming back. But now? I don't have that safety net. I often say that my cancer experience is like having a lion prowling behind me. It's always there ready to pounce, but most days I never see the lion. However, when I do see its shadow I’m reminded it's there.
Life after surviving metastatic bladder cancer
I'm 6 months out of treatment and these days I feel numb. After spending nearly 4 years in survival mode this new normal feels weird. I'm not at my cancer center every 3 weeks for treatment. The pain is a distant memory.
I've spent these few months picking up the pieces and trying to figure out what kind of patient and advocate I am going to be moving forward. I'm still in very active monitoring, there are no plans to spread out my scans any time soon, and I've been dealing with the fallout of metastatic cancer, big surgeries, and 3 years of treatment.
A different battle
I now have stage 3 kidney disease, a permanent vitamin deficiency, and clinical anxiety. So the battle isn't over - just different. Although it is a scary new road to navigate, I'm trying to remain hopeful and enjoy saying I beat stage 4 metastatic bladder cancer.
How long did it take for you to receive a bladder cancer diagnosis?