Cancer Free at Last!

After my last two blog posts about my breast cancer journey it is high time for something positive! The day I met with my breast surgeon to review my pathology results from my double mastectomy she entered the exam room with a stack of papers and a small pink box. With a smile on her face she sat down and told my husband and I she had my pathology results.

All good news! The results showed she had removed all the cancerous tissue and attained the desired clear margins. A clear margin is a portion of healthy cancer-free tissue that helps ensure all the cancer was removed.

She then handed me the small pink box she had brought in. She smiled and said she gives each of her patients this gift to celebrate and commemorate the day they receive a cancer free report. I opened the pink box. Inside was a pink ribbon made of rhinestones on a silk braided chord with pearls on either end. I immediately put it on.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt the weight of cancer lifted from my shoulders. I was also deeply moved by her gesture. So often the practice of medicine can seem very impersonal, even when dealing with very personal issues. The fact my surgeon took the time to make this personal meant a great deal to me.

Everyone in the room could not help but smile and exude joy. There may have been tears, but they were tears of joy not sorrow. My surgeon was glowing as she reached out to hug me. Success!

She expressed her joy in getting to celebrate with us. Even now as I think about it, I am struck by such a momentous event and celebration in such an ordinary and plain doctor’s office. Some of life’s greatest celebrations occur in the most unexpected places.

My last post detailed my experiences with Necrosis. Because the necrosis occurred in the same breast as my cancer, the tissue my plastic surgeon removed was also sent to pathology. After a couple weeks, I learned that tissue was also cancer free as well.  All around good news!

It is hard to adequately describe such a burden being lifted. To know at one moment your body is betraying you. Harboring something that if left unchecked could possibly kill you. Followed by the knowledge that threat has been eradicated. Really, it’s a flood of emotions. After such a rollercoaster of shock, grief and fear, how could it not be?

I think the best way to describe it would be a release. In one moment with one small phrase – cancer free – months of worry, uncertainty and fear were over. Sweet. Relief. Joy. Peace.

I only knew I had cancer in my body and rode the cancer rollercoaster for 5 months. However, the emotional weight of that journey made it 5 of the most difficult months of my life. Finally the end had come. I fought back with joy yet again.  When life gives me an opportunity to celebrate I intend to always take it!