Sunday, December 27, 2015

5 Years Later

Here we are again. It's the end of December. The year is 2015 (sounds so futuristic, right?), and it has been exactly 5 years since I last entered the radiation room for a zap. Technically that means I am cured. 5 years post-treatment with no recurrence = cured = wonderful, superstar fantastic.

I'm not sure it's that easy. 5 years does not mean I don't still think about it coming back. Or having a new kind of cancer as payment for the rads I took to kill cancer #1. As my onc always says, "there's no such thing as a free lunch." And those words ring in my ears.

During chemo, I remember thinking about this giant dance party we would hold after treatment had ended. We would invite all of our friends and celebrate the end of cancer! There would be loud music, and cupcakes, all of my favorite people, and maybe some glow sticks. But then we got to the end of chemo, and I realized I might need radiation, which indeed I did. Then I had to wait another 3 months for a scan to find out if the radiation had been effective, which, thankfully, it was. There were more tests and scans to follow. The results were positive but felt awfully temporary. And there was not much I could do to change that fact.

For me, that's what is so scary about having cancer. It's a brutal reminder that all living things are temporary, and mostly out of our hands.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I am obviously quite glad to be here to celebrate my 5th cancerversary, the whole ordeal still doesn't feel over. The question lingers: when will I have to pay for my lunch?


How has life changed since 2010? The two biggies are of course different job and new baby. The rest is just stuff. Judah is a big kid - no more toddler - in 3rd grade. He even wrote a story about a baby bird named Beaky whose mother was diagnosed with lymphoma. Our experience together comes up in unpredictable ways. Gratefully, he doesn't seem too worse for the wear. Zev is our newest miracle. Standing tall at 10 months, he uttered his first intentional word last week: "Judah" (was there ever a doubt?) and loves to make all kinds of sounds, crawl, eat, sing, kiss, and snuggle. We cannot stop eating his pudgy arms and legs, and nibbling his round, soft cheeks. Tfu, tfu.

My favorite time of day is between 7 and 8 when we're on vacation and snuggling in bed together. The gratitude can be overwhelming.

I won't go into too much detail about the worries that pop up on a daily basis - mainly they have transferred from being about me back to being about the boys. It's so easy to give into the anxiety and let it run me over, but Dan is good about trying to bring me back to Earth. Mostly. Plus we are lucky to have a solid pediatrician (who is also a friend), who both takes me seriously and quells my nervous, new-again mama fears.

I come back to write this update to make sure that those members of the club who stumble upon this blog see that the story does continue past the last treatment. There are plenty of challenges along the way, but oh, the rewards are sweet.

None of us know what the future holds - and that is MY scariest part - so for today I will eat something delicious and toast to how far we've come. L'chaim!


  1. Beautifully inspiring. Your message is so clear: Whatever it is that is worrying us beneath the surface will always ebb and flow but we can live one day at a time while putting things into perspective taking time to appreciate all of life's little blessings.

  2. Hi Mia. You are a wonderful woman! So inspirational to so many people. I remember when I was diagnosed, you were just finishing up your rad regiment. I came to the (FB)group looking for support and answers. You were one of the most supportive and encouraging that I met. I will always be so grateful for that. So for you to come out on the other side the way that you's a true blessing for you, your beautiful family, and the rest of your "family". I completely understand that it never ends...even after 5 years. My 5 years, with God's grace, will come about in a few months. But like you, I still think about payback of that "free lunch".

    I know I'm a little late, but congratulations Mia D-B! I'm so very happy for you.

    Your Friend,
    Rick Stephenson

  3. Mia-
    Thank you for this very inspirational chapter! I am early in the process...diagnosed with Intravascular Large B-Cell NHL in June 1015.1 in a million diagnosis. Yay me!) Did 6 EPOCH+R and preparing for SCT. I thought I have been overly anxious thinking that I never know if or when it will come back (have even been told that by a sibling!).
    Reading your story truly gives me hope. Thank you!
    Have a blessed day!

  4. Glad to hear you're doing well and got your second baby. Our story is similar, although it was my husband who had the diffuse B-cell lymphoma. Best wishes to your family for 2016!