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I Divorced My Disease

I will see other black binders in my life, but I'll never pick one up and carry its weight ever again. When we are diagnosed with cancer, we are married to our disease, but when we are cured, we have to divorce it and be free.
09/11/2015 11:59am ET | Updated September 11, 2016
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I thought cancer was here to stay, but I had to break up with it. After four years of taking it wherever I went, letting it live with me, and having it define me, I am kicking it to the curb. It had a permanent residence in my life and for a long time I thought it was the most important thing about me, but it's not now, and I am moving on. I had never thought of my cancer as separate from me, that I could walk away from it and not let it be a part of me, and thanks to a big black binder, I finally see it for what it is, an evil ex.

I was diagnosed and treated in 2011 for follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma, then every year after that, I did a full body scan. This year I went to my endocrinologist and he said the guidelines have changed and as long as my blood work, chest x-ray and ultrasound were negative, I didn't have to do the scan. I got that month of my life back. The month of no thyroid pills, no energy, no iodine and no life was a thing of the past. But I still don't have parathyroid glands, so I still wasn't ready to end my relationship with cancer, so off to another date with a cancer doctor.

That doctor told me that there is nothing they can do to remedy the fact that my parathyroid glands were accidentally removed during my thyroidectomy. No transplant, no miracle, no actual steps I could take to change the fact I have to take prescription vitamin D and handfuls of calcium everyday. I started crying in his office. Crocodile tears of releasing four years of being married to a disease that ran down my face and onto his examining table and onto the three inch, three ring binder that contained every one of my cancer reports from the very beginning. It even had my only copy of my mom's autopsy report that said she had melanoma is every cell of her body when she passed in 2010. The doctor rubbed my knee and assured me he would keep my case in mind if he heard of anything that could help me.

I gathered whatever pride I had left, which wasn't much, and I walked out of his medical building with tear stained checks and red eyes, and found my car. As I pulled out, I put my parking ticket in the machine and it just ate it, so I had to go look for an attendant while the cars gathered impatiently behind me. I felt defeated and drained and so done with keeping my pain so close to my core that I bawled all the way home. Then I pulled myself together and forgot about the whole dramatic scene, until the following week, when my primary doctor told me to bring in my latest blood test results.

Where did I put that huge thick black binder? It's not in the car, not in my filing cabinet, not in my closet, oh, I must have left it on that exam table a week ago. I called and emailed the office but the binder was gone. I went searching for answers and when I was told no, I left my cancer in the office. I walked out without all the proof that I had been in a relationship with a disease. At first I was so embarrassed that I told no one. Then slowly, a relief swept over me that was so freeing that I realized that leaving that binder behind was a gift.

There was nothing I could do about my unintentional mistake, all the reports and files were my only copy, but maybe it wasn't a mistake at all. My subconscious was ready to release what my conscious was holding onto so tightly. I now realize that I had to let go of my cancer and divorce my disease. I didn't realize how bad the pain was that I was carrying around because I didn't even realize that I was so attached to it. I'm ready to walk free from cancer and just be me and it feels so good. I will see other black binders in my life, but I'll never pick one up and carry its weight ever again. When we are diagnosed with cancer, we are married to our disease, but when we are cured, we have to divorce it and be free.