The evidence of my disease

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MeganNEDsurvivorsweek.jpgBy Megan Silianoff

Megan Silianoff is a 30-year- old writer/blogger living in Houston. When she was 28, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and most recently has undergone an excisional biopsy of her breast. After four surgeries in two years, she is in complete remission. For more about Megan, check out her blog Greetings from Texas.

This post is part of our Survivorship Week series, June 2-9.

At the conclusion of my most recent CT scan, my doctor sat across from me and happily told me I had "no evidence of disease." It was news that millions of cancer patients dream of hearing. Yet for some reason, I didn't feel the overwhelming satisfaction you'd imagine.  

I was happy, sure. But I didn't pop any champagne nor did I high-five anyone on my way out of the hospital. (Though I did buy myself a Snickers bar and tip the valet guy an extra dollar.)

I love that phrase, though, "no evidence of disease," and have given it a lot of thought since my doctor used it. I've decided it's just not true.

Evidence within me
My body may have rid itself of all the cancer (good job, body!) but the evidence that it was once there remains both literally and figuratively within me, and I'd have it no other way.

Take my scars, for example. My stomach bears two large scars, one vertical, one horizontal, intersecting with each other to form an upside-down sign of the cross. My right breast has its own respective scar.

And guess what? I love my scars. They're tangible "evidence" of my four surgeries, of what I've been through and how far I've come. I'm proud of my scars. I've earned my scars. My scars are evidence of my disease.

I also have evidence of disease in my outlook on life. I'm not going to tell you I'm a different person after cancer or cliché things like, I no longer "sweat the small stuff." I'm the same person I was pre-cancer and I still sweat the small stuff. (Recently, my DVR didn't tape "New Girl" and I cried.)

However, going through cancer gives you an opportunity to see what you're made of. Through that opportunity I learned I'm made of more confidence, capability and charisma* than I ever knew.

*Others would call it sassiness. Again, I prefer "charisma."

Next month, I'm scheduled for another follow-up appointment at MD Anderson. I hope that my doctor once again tells me that I have "no evidence of disease." I'll know, in my heart, that her statement isn't entirely true. But I'll also know what she means.  And maybe this time I will high-five someone on my way out of there.

Read more posts by Megan Silianoff


1 Comment

Love the honesty. Hope your next check is good. You are in my prayers.

I remember sitting in the dentist chair for a cleaning six months after my adult stem cell transplant. I had survived cancer and thought the experience had changed me. When the dentist asked me how, I had to think.

Permanent change happens gradually. Even when one gets a life threatening disease.

I still lose my temper at other drivers, and I still get angry at stupid things. But at least now I realize how stupid it is to do that.

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