You’re in Remission! Now What?
I clearly remember the meeting where I heard that golden word “remission”. It was a meeting with the doctor and nurse who would be in charge of the stem cell transplant after the chemo I’d had for a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Over the next several months they would put my body through a battery of tests, harvest my stem cells, give me more chemo to kill my entire immune system and then give me back my stem cells in the hopes that they would create a new immune system.
The doctor sat down at the little round table and said, “Well I get to give you the good news that you are in remission!” I seriously thought confetti and balloons might fall from the ceiling. At minimum they should be handing me a gold embossed certificate with a huge “Remission” across the top in fancy lettering. These were the words I had been waiting to hear for several months.
Then when I had breast cancer (yes, I had two cancers at essentially the same time. Read my story here), remission was more obscure. I never actually had anyone declare that I was in remission, in so many words. The closest I got was the oncologist saying that after two years from the date of diagnosis, they rarely see it come back. So on that two year anniversary, I did my own happy dance and declared myself in remission. However, after a quick Google search, I think I could have celebrated much earlier. Apparently with non-estrogen breast cancer, remission is when no cancer is detectable. So for me, I guess I was in remission after the mastectomy and chemo. Maybe even after the mastectomy! Seriously, a Certificate of Remission would have been nice (*cough—million dollar idea).
So you’re in remission. Now what? YAY! YOU’RE IN REMISSION! Happy dance! You made it to the finish line! Yes, you are so tired. And your body may not look or feel at all like it used to. But you’re alive and you made it! So where do you go from here?
- Have a party. Yes, I’m serious. It’s time to celebrate! Invite friends over or gather your favorite people somewhere special. If you’re not a “Yay, me!” kind of person or you are physically not up to a big shindig, then have your own little “I’m so happy to be alive” celebration at your favorite place. The point is to really let it sink in. Let the gratitude flow over you and bathe in that bliss for a while. You are alive and your body, mind and spirit did some hard work to get you to this place of remission. YAY!!!
- Take serious stock of the collateral damage. If you had chemo and/or radiation and/or surgery to get to this point, your body has been through the wringer. It’s important to begin the work of building it back up.
- Get moving and eating right. In order to seal the remission deal, it is imperative that you create a new normal for healthy living. No, it is not okay to go back to how you lived before. That was not exactly conducive to creating a cancer-free zone in your body, was it? You’re going to have to create a new normal for a healthy lifestyle. One great idea would be to subscribe to my Recipe Club where you get a bundle of easy, clean and healthy recipes delivered straight to your email inbox each month.
Stay tuned for a new online course I am developing to take a deep dive into sealing the remission deal. It is called The Permanent Remission Project and I am super excited about it. It will be a way to get the steps that are outlined in my book on creating the most inhospitable environment for cancer in your body, really solidly implemented as a wellness lifestyle. Sign up for my weekly newsletter to make sure you know all about the project as well as receive weekly wellness blog posts and other tips and tricks.