Last week, members of my post-cancer group rendezvoused at the Denny’s parking lot on Ocean Street, piled into Marianne’s car, and drove over the hill to visit a member of our group whose cancer has come back. Joanne had been sick from chemo and radiation and we all wanted to see her.
Joanne was thinner and her face was beautiful, wide open. She sat tall in her chair and told us her story. She let down in way you just can’t do with people who don’t know cancer from the inside out. She cried. We all did.
While we were there, I could feel my own defenses crumble. Next month will be my two-year anniversary of the end of treatment. Two years isn’t that long, but in the past few months, the specter of cancer has faded from my life. While I live with the impact of cancer every day—mostly in the form of a brain filled with vast and gaping holes—being a cancer patient has shifted from being a contemporary identity, the headline in the forefront of my life, to something in the background, just one part of my rich and textured history. I’ve found other more immediate things to fret about. And fret, I do.