2 Years NED, Still Not Relieved
Last updated: January 2023
Being a survivor is hard work. You expect this overwhelming relief when the surgeons finally get it all. You anticipate that day to welcome the new found hope and ability to live your life like it once was, without worry.
The unexpected phone call
Two and a half years ago, I received that amazing phone call saying I'm NED (No evidence of disease). Yet I’m still waiting for my life to be like it once was or to be relieved all day every day. Instead, every medical problem is automatically related to cancer recurrence. Cough? Probably cancer. Is this a cold? Probably somehow cancer. That mole that’s been there since I was a baby? Hmm it suddenly looks weird and I’ll be sending my dermatologist a picture of that and scheduling an appointment ASAP.
Trading beach trips for hospital rooms
I was 19 when I was diagnosed melanoma positive, 20 when cleared NED, and yet both spring breaks after were filled with doctor appointments. I had 9 doctor appointments in one collegiate spring break week. I never planned an exciting trip because how was I supposed to tell my friends, “Sorry, but I can’t go to the beach for a week, but snowboarding could be a fun option,” when my campus had barely broken 40°F that semester. Instead, I traded the beach and bathing suit for waiting rooms and hospital gowns.
You think and hope that after the battle finished, you wouldn’t think about cancer...
I will venture to say I think about it more. There are times I wish I would have had a different cancer that could be monitored by scans and machines, instead of trusting a human eye. Then I catch myself. How crazy is it that I'm 22 years old and I'm envious of another person's cancer battle. When I say it out loud, I feel delusional, until the next day when I think it all over again.
The signs for an abnormal mole are Appearance, uneven Borders, Colors, Diameter, and Evolution (ABCDE). What if I’m still getting new moles, do those signs still apply? How do I tell a weird mole from a new mole changing and growing? I initially thought, “Oh those are easy signs to spot.” Then came my next 6-month check-up and all the moles on my arms suddenly looked new.
I’m 2 years out and still not relieved, still losing sleep, and still hoping I gain my peace of mind back, and that's okay.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?