We moved here, to a city in the southeastern United States, about five years ago, right after my 2007 diagnosis of Stage II/III papillary thyroid cancer.
Next week, I’ll go in for an ultrasound of my neck, some blood work, and meet with my endocrinologist. At the five-year mark, I will join the ranks of the 95% — the share of people with this same diagnosis who will die of something other than this cancer. Yay me! I’m assuming, as I’ve been doing since 2009, when I was deemed “cancer-free” one year after radio-iodine treatment for the cancer cells that the surgeon couldn’t possibly see or remove, that next week the doctor will spend about five minutes me with and I’ll be on my way. Yay me, again!
I’ve been the first to say that the cancer I had was “easy,” or “boring,” or “not a big deal,” because I did in fact have about the friendliest cancer on the planet. As one doctor put it, “it’s a lazy, indolent cancer.” Since my little cancer junket, my sister, who avoided breast cancer in early 2007, had to deal with lymphoma in 2009. My dad had a major heart attack a week after my diagnosis. My mother has been dealing with multiple myeloma for the past year. The cancer I had? It barely happened to me.
But it did happen. While I am obscenely lucky to have skated through it all, I do feel clarified by it. Not as in “made less confused,” but as in butter, “melted to separate out impurities.” Impurities like wistfulness, regret, or shame. Finally, I like who I am.
Maybe this is why the prospect of moving again in a few months–even though we’re in relocation limbo at the moment–seems so easy.
Maybe that’s why everything seems so easy.