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Jay Lake
Date: 2009-03-10 16:05
Subject: [cancer] A brief return of The Fear
Security: Public
Tags:books, calendula, cancer, escapement, health, mainspring, personal
Longtime readers will recall my Excellent Cancer Adventures of the past year. Had my quarterly followup with my cancer surgeon today, during which we scheduled the colonoscopy and CT scans for the one-year followup this coming May, just after the one-year anniversary of my surgery.

Afterwards, in the car, I had an outbreak of The Fear. (See also here: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ].) I've recently experienced an odd moment of grief [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ], and since then, some deep melancholy, on the day Escapement Powell's | Amazon ] was released in mass market paperback. (That was an echo of the fact that I first went into the hospital on the day that Mainspring Powell's | Amazon thb | Audible ] was released in mass market paperback.)

This was different.

I'd been talking to my doc about what we were looking for in the tests. Specifically, tumor recurrence in the colon, lymph system or liver; as well as any polyps which might have been too small to be detected last year when various medical professionals went spelunking in my fine and private places. This was pretty sobering, although not particularly alarming in medical terms.

After the consult, I felt fussy, angry, stressed out. I sat in my parked car talking to calendula_witch about the tests and what they meant, then suddenly burst into tears. Just overwhelmed.

Because I am afraid of what we might find.

My doctor is as optimistic as he can be, but until we look, we will not know. We must look, we must know, but for a few minutes I was back in the Big Cancer Fear of last April and May. calendula_witch was very sweet and understanding, talking me down in part by telling me I'd gone to a dark and scary place. In the context of colon cancer, this suddenly seemed very funny. It's hard to laugh and cry at the same time.

The fear is purely emotional. Medically I'm as good as I can be. These tests are purely risk management and good followup. Yes, something might be there, but if it is, I'll beat that like I beat this last round of cancer. Emotional or not, it's real.

And today I realize that the Big Cancer Fear will never really die. It doesn't keep me awake at night or stalk my dreaming mind, but it's with me. It always will be. With my own strong heart and the love of my friends and family, I will always be better than The Fear.

Originally published at jlake.com.

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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: mevennen
Date: 2009-03-11 08:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good luck to you, Jay. I know a bit about the fear. Never goes, but you do indeed learn to live with the fucker.
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User: spencimusprime
Date: 2009-03-11 00:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"talking me down in part by telling me I'd gone to a dark and scary place"

Hahahaha! I'm really glad she was there for you because 1) always better to have someone there for you and 2) that's hilarious.

Hang in there, man. We are thinking of and hoping for you.
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calendula_witch: arms
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2009-03-11 02:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh. I didn't realize what I was saying until it, um, came out...okay I'll stop now.
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scarlettina: Hug
User: scarlettina
Date: 2009-03-11 00:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
::hug:: Yes, you will always be better than the fear.

Edited at 2009-03-11 12:40 am (UTC)
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The NewroticGirl: Newrotic2
User: newroticgirl
Date: 2009-03-11 00:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Much love to you.
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Jim C. Hines: Battle Woodstock
User: jimhines
Date: 2009-03-11 00:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Battle Woodstock
Has anyone ever mentioned that you're a damned good writer? Reading your post, I found myself feeling afraid, then a little overwhelmed as I tried to figure out how to respond. Then laughing as I got to the dark and scary bit.

I know it's nothing compared to what you've gone through, but it's still a testament that you can help us to feel a little of it with you.

Strength and good thoughts for you, my friend.
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User: fastfwd
Date: 2009-03-11 00:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

And positive, supportive thoughts from all of us around here.
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User: n5red
Date: 2009-03-11 01:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wow, I can't even imagine having that much desire to survive.
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Leah Cutter: Marv
User: lrcutter
Date: 2009-03-11 01:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have to ditto what Jim Hines said -- you got my emotions flowing as well with your report. I truly wish you the best of the best.

PS. The cheese is better the first day than the second. Maybe it needed to be aired?
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User: yourbob
Date: 2009-03-11 01:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As my shrink keeps telling me, my reality is my reality no matter what everybody else thinks.

I would expect your reaction to the checks will be less strong over time. This is the "big one". The first you have to go through. Once you're through it, you'll know whether anything was missed the first time, and you'll be more sure you're only dealing with recurrance in the future, rather than missed stuff.

And yes, it is unfortunately true that your chances of having a recurrance is better than your chances of being hit by lightening from a cloudless sky while stepping in front of a high-speed bus on the fifth Thursday in February.

Just remember that should it happen you can always ruin more people's appetites with more photos of macaroni.
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miki garrison: bridge troll
User: mikigarrison
Date: 2009-03-11 02:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:bridge troll
Just *hugs*
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User: barbhendee
Date: 2009-03-11 02:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

This may sound weird, but the crying was good for you.

I've only actually cried--sobbing with tears--a few times in my life, and this is probably the same for you, but if it happens it's because your brain and body needed it to happen.

And it brings the weirdest form of relief about an hour later. Drink water tonight, and you will feel strangely better without understanding why.

Your body and brain needed to release something.
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User: e_bourne
Date: 2009-03-11 02:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are better than The Fear, and you are better because of The Fear. I'm sorry that you experienced what you did. The Fear never goes completely away, because now, you have the gift of knowing, and really, that's an incredibly precious thing. The chill hand lies on some of us, so by health or accident, we feel its slow caress.

I live grateful for every day, rushing to get enough done.

It's awful. It's a terrible thing to feel in you, and a power to be used. I know you'll make good use of it. I'm sorry you'll have the moments, I truly am.

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calendula_witch: arms
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2009-03-11 02:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Aw. I was (and am) glad I could be there, however long-distance-ly. :-)
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2009-03-11 02:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Hopefully this marker too will pass. I've never gone as far down the cancer trail as you have, but I've had those hinky moments where the doctor says--"ah--um, we need to do more here," followed by all sorts of poking around in the female bits--and the first time that happened to me was two months after I became a mother, eleven months after my own mother had died from cancer.

You'll beat it, if there's anything left to beat.
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User: karenjunker
Date: 2009-03-11 03:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We're behind you, 100%.
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