5 YEARS CANCER FREE, and formally discharged from oncology care today. Big day.
To be completely honest, I've been far too stressed, busy, and distracted with other things in life to really process this huge moment, but I know what I'm feeling deep inside. When I do finally have some time to myself, I think I'm going to grab a really nice bottle of wine, and then go curl up in a corner and cry for awhile. It felt surreal walking out of my oncologist's office today, knowing that I don't need to go back anymore for this, and hopefully never again in my life. I'm a free man at long last.
These past five years have simultaneously been the most challenging, stressful, and terrifying years of my life, but thanks to the love, support, and camaraderie from so many of you, along with some truly wonderful friendships that have developed in the aftermath, they've also been the very best years of my life as well. When you feel threatened and like your days are numbered, you really learn how to LIVE your life fully, and you appreciate things that so many take for granted. I've lived more each year since cancer than I had in all of my life prior to cancer combined, and I've had five amazing and full years like that now. That's a whole lot of LIVING in a few short years. Cancer really does open your eyes and give you a whole new perspective on life, and I wouldn't give that back for the world. Life is beautiful.
I may have finally managed to get fired by my oncologist, but I'm not entirely free from follow-ups. I'm still going to have annual blood tumor markers checked, along with an annual scrotal ultrasound, as part of my yearly physicals with my primary care. My oncologist will also have them do some additional lymph node checks as part of the annual physical exam, with referral to my oncologist if anything doesn't look right. Biggest news is NO MORE DAMNED SCANS!!!! I'm done with the frequent flyer chest x-rays. The risk of a false positive at this point far exceeds the likelihood of there actually being cancer, and that would lead to unnecessary radiation exposure from a CT scan, so they're not really recommended. I'm certainly not going to miss going in for scans, I'll tell you that.
The real "end" of cancer in our lives, if we're ever able to get there, is if and when you can finally be discharged from oncology care. "We really don't need to see you any more, ever." That's the real ending, and that's when life really does move on. I've felt this evolution coming for the past year, and today the day is mine. Finally crossed that finish line, and I'm a free man.