The MRI results came Monday night, after we had already given up on them: we were in bed, and Per was half asleep.
“Looks good!” was the note from my doctor, short and sweet after she had sent the clean PET scan results earlier in the day with only a smiley face.
But I challenge any 12 characters to carry so much promise, so much joy—so much joy I feel my body can barely contain it, and I’m certain the joy has taken up too much room within me to have left behind any last crevice for cancer.
I send a text to friends, explaining how it feels: it’s never been like this before, I can literally feel waves move through me in sparkling rays, and in that moment I am brave enough to type my most fervent and dangerous hope: that this time I am done-done.
I close my eyes and ask myself, “Really?”
And I hear it clearly: YES.
I’ve been NED before: twice in fact. The first time I didn’t believe I was done. The second time, I hoped I was. But Monday’s news left me happier and lighter and freer than I’ve felt in three years.
I know the doubt will creep back in. Slowly. I’ll sense it before I can name it. Then, after the nagging nibbles away at the foundation of my safety, the day will come when I feel a bit tired, and it will make itself known with a dramatic reveal: Is it back??
That’s what it does, as it should, I suppose, given its nature: cancer is a wily adversary, and it will be years for me to confidently “know” that I’ve left it in my wake. Maybe I haven’t, in fact, and months or years from now I’ll be whining to a disappointed (if loyal) audience who never really wanted a sequel in the first place.
But I’ve been to hell and back, and I will be damned if I’m not going to enjoy this joy for as long as I possibly can. I deserve to believe it’s done.
“EXPECT TO WIN” was in bold type on the mug one of my first bosses gave me, in an era when Successories posters dotted every office at the bank where I temped. It held my pencils for years, moving to my dorm, two apartments, my condo and finally my home until it was retired in one of those inspired purging weekends that would make Marie Kondo proud.
Because the mug is gone, but my expectation is not; and in my joyful state almost anything is possible. I go to sleep and have a lucid dream that feels like a calling, and the whole thing is so ridiculous I wake Per up to tell him so we can laugh and laugh and laugh.
The following morning I send a text, and then another and another. And the idea becomes more real and more ridiculous with every passing hour; I do research that suggests how insanely impossible this idea is (hint: worse than I had even suspected), which of course makes it that much more perfect.
Because if I listened to be odds I’d be dead for a year already now.
Whether it’s actually a good idea or a bad idea I don’t yet know. But I know sometimes a bad idea is so bad it’s good; and sometimes it’s just plain bad but inspires something else good. So I’ve decided to give it just a little more breathing room while my joy feels boundless and see what it might birth.
And mostly it feels good to be thinking about what’s next - how to take this experience and squeeze from it all the juice of what was amazing and vibrant, life changing and heart-opening, to extract it from the godawful burden parts and set it free, so it can inspire people to live more deliberately, more joyfully, more authentically than they had ever before given themselves permission to live.
To make it all worthwhile.
Because it is, and it was, the best worst thing that ever happened to me, and to us. I will never be the same, and for that, and for all those of you who were a part of that truth, I will be eternally thankful. And now I’m ready for what’s next.
Who’s with me?