In high school a friend “encouraged” me to “get over” my cancer. They meant well. Seriously, they were being kind and thought they were doing something to help me. I had other friends who explained to me that I used my cancer/amputation as a proverbial (or literal) crutch. Again, they were being helpful. They were trying to “normalize” me.
But, here’s the thing about childhood cancer.
It’s never really gone.
From the moment we are diagnosed, we are cancer patients. We will never ever return to not being cancer patients. It’s on every medical record we fill out. It’s on every school form. It’s a pertinent piece of information for the people who help us grow.
I was at a new doctor yesterday (after being in a new city for three years, it’s about time). I take what is called my “Passport” to every doctor I go to. This document lists a brief summary of my diagnosis and treatment, tells the physician what tests need to be ordered and how often, gives the doctors things to look out for. I give it to every doctor I see from dentist to cardiologist.
Because I will always be a cancer patient.
Because of my treatment I have developed cardiac failure, live with an amputation, and have to be vigilant about looking for other possible late term effects. This includes possible second malignancies. Think about that for a moment, the cancer that I had as a kid was treated with chemotherapy. That chemotherapy could potentially cause MORE cancer later in my life.
So, my lovely well meaning friends, I won’t be able to get over it anytime soon.