Mom was forever grateful that I had successfully recovered from the surgery and was now on a treatment plan, so that's why she considered me so lucky. I didn't want to disagree with her, but deep down it was impossible to consider myself lucky without setting precise limitations on the definition. At times while being protective of Mom's feelings and her level of stress, I would feel like I should try pretending, and not being honest. It was at these times that I needed to find a safe place to secretly store all my genuine feelings, those feelings that I couldn't openly share with anyone. It was as if I gradually created my own personal Pandora's box, where all my authentic thoughts, feelings and fears could safely be stored. It was the one place where I could be real, open and honest with myself. If this sounds unusual or extreme, remember I was this young girl who was being careful not to be a nuisance or cause any unnecessary trouble for my family or friends.
For several years Mom and I had to regularly head back to New York for me to receive a check-up, TEM and radiation. For me, the trips out to NYC were definitely more difficult than the trips back home because each time we boarded the train, plane or bus, I would be filled with an unnatural fear about the outcome of my check-up. What if the tumor had grown, or if there was a new tumor to worry about? It is difficult for me to explain how I would spend these days begging God to let everything just be okay. During these years, it was important to have meticulously good behavior, while secretly believing this painstaking effort would be the best way for me to show God that I was worthy enough to have my pleas granted.
After returning from New York, I would feel as though I had been given a reprieve or official pardon, and I could live with less fear and more enjoyment. Breathing easier meant that I could have more fun and be less concerned about receiving negative news. I would still need to go for weekly blood work at the UW hospital, but it was much less painful and stressful than my time in NYC. I consistently went to church and Mass as often as possible each week because I believed that God was the whole key to receiving a free pass for a life without cancer. I held onto that belief for several years, until I came face-to-face with the hard reality that I was wrong!! How surprised was I?!