I beat cancer when I was 19. Well, I say “beat” but you don’t really win against cancer, it leaves all sorts of mental and physical scars. Thirty or so years later its easy to forget how my life changed and my legacy of small health issues.
I got early treatment from a progressive surgeon who was willing to share some risk with me. We took some difficult decisions to avoid the more damaging choices and take some calculated risks about the spread of the cancer. In hindsight, they were the right choices and I avoided surgery that would have nearly crippled me and negative impacts on my life today. Compared to some people, I had what medical people call “a good outcome”.
A “good outcome” doesn’t mean fully healthy. I developed a few secondary medical problems around that time. Nothing too serious (compared to dying, at least).
One that took 10 years to diagnose is a viral infection that gets grouped into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If I work too hard, expend too much energy, too much stress and don’t get enough sleep then my body isn’t able to cope. Sometimes I miss the warning signs, I get fevers, exhaustion, lack of concentration.
I’m thankful to be alive. I’m thankful to not die a truly awful death through cancer eating me alive from the inside. But I’m still fighting to stay healthy, to keep living. These viral relapses remind me that I’m not dead and that science is a wonder.
I’ve had several bad weeks with exhaustion which is longer than usual recovery period. I’m not able to concentrate fully. I’m not keeping up with my schedule and commitments. I need to sleep 12 hours a day to return to health.
But I’m not dead so it’s a good outcome. I’ll keep telling myself that until I’m back to full power.