Cancer-free. Now what?

So the words the doctor said were, “there is nothing there; it is all gone.”  I sat up abruptly and said, “NOTHING? Do you really mean nothing?” He replied, “Yes, nothing.” Oh my God, I am cancer free.

I sat back in my chair not sure how to feel. I looked at my husband and he high-fived me–such a man thing to do. I walked out of the hospital with a jump in my step, lighter on my feet somehow. After over two years of time, emotions, anger, questions all dealing with cancer, all I could think was, “now what?”

I didn’t know if I wanted to cry, laugh, dance, scream, or all of the above. What do people do when they hear that? Well now, I have all this extra time. All the time I had spent in my head quietly thinking about cancer and how life had changed was gone. It was supposed to be gone but sometimes anger still creeps in. You see my twin sister who also has thyroid cancer was not so lucky.

She went to the doctor two weeks after me to hear about her results and they were not as favorable. They found a growth of live tissue where her thyroid used to sit. Now she will endure the radiation again and surgery after that if it is not gone. The doctors told her she is a long way from the words I heard that day that changed my life once again.

So now the emotions start to sink in again: Anger, uncertainty, sympathy and GUILT. I feel so much guilt for being a year behind her in my diagnosis and already I am years ahead of her in recovery. She doesn’t make me feel this way, I simply do anyway.

She is the closest person to me in my life. I love my husband with all of me and my children are my life but there is a connection with identical twins I can’t explain, and I won’t even try. When she hurts I hurt. To have a twin as close to you as she is, and then to go through cancer together, is a bond unlike any other.  I understand all the emotions she is going through. I used to get angry at the stupid remarks people would say when they heard I had cancer, and I sat on the other side of the phone not having a clue what to say to my sister when she told me it was not gone. All I could do was listen, support her choices and tell her I love her.  I can’t do this for her but I can listen. Although I find it so difficult to hear it as it stirs up all the “stuff” I am trying to forget at this point.

I find it difficult because in all the research I have done about cancer, all the people I have connected with, I can’t find anyone that knows exactly what it is like to do this at the same time as your twin. But all is not bad with it I don’t have to explain anything to her–she just gets it, and on more levels than any one else on this planet could.

All I know for sure is she too will hear those words–cancer free–but she just has to go through a bit more first. And I will be there for her in any way I can.  Hopefully the next time I write a letter it will be to announce the end of her journey, although I think we have a duty to not let the journey end! To make sure that we are available to others in need going through the same thing we are–I just happen to be doing that for someone much closer to me!

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