Should I read it or should I pass it by? I think I'll take a pass because it will probably upset me. I read a paragraph, then the whole thing. I don't want to be uninformed.
"It" is an essay in today's New York Times headlined "New Cancer Threat Lurks Long After Cure." It talks about the risk of secondary cancers that can spring up as a result of chemotherapy and/or radiation. The writer mentions Robin Roberts, who told viewers of "Good Morning America" last month that the breast cancer treatment she received five years ago caused a new diagnosis, myelodysplastic syndrome, which can lead to leukemia.
The essay was not so much frightening as a call to seize the day. Still, it points out something we already know: You can get sick again. You can't keep that fear in front of you all the time, because then you would not live your life.
But sometimes the subconscious (or the conscious mind) reminds us that it's hard to get away.
Last week I had a relapse nightmare every night. They were all basically the same – a blood test came out badly and a doctor told me I had six months to live. Night after night of this can cast a pall over your day.
I don't know what started it. Maybe Nora Ephron's death from AML. Who knows. I talked to my therapist about it, and she said to stop trying to figure out what started it. She said to instead try a "dream rehearsal" in which, just before bed, you redo the nightmare with a different outcome. In my case, perhaps the bad blood test was a mistake, or perhaps I had a blood test and the results were good.
I tried the second approach. The dreams stopped.
I'm sure that's not the end of it, though. It's just something we have to live with. But hey, we're alive.
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