So, exciting news being NED, amiright? Exciting, but also terrifying. You see, everything in cancer land is ass backwards. For example, when your cancer gets worse, we call that “progression.” Progress would suggest improvement, right? Not with cancer. You’d also think that I’d breathe easier knowing the drug I’m on is working, right? Not so much. Let me use a metaphor to explain.
I’ve written in the past about how having metastatic breast cancer is like being shoved off a cliff. And I’ve also written about how hope is like a rope that kind people who just don’t get what metster life is is like will throw down to you and say “Here, climb this.” But the problem is, the higher you climb, the harder the fall. And you WILL fall. NED doesn’t mean cured. It means the cancer is too small to be seen on a scan. It’s still in there, trying to figure out how to overcome the drug I’m on and start growing again.
So, basically what’s happened is, my oncologist gave me a rope, and I trust him more than I do the good hearted friends who say “be positive, have hope,” so I’ve climbed the rope. And now here I am hanging off the edge of the cliff on this rope, not fully at the top, but high enough that I can see the view from up here, and think “holy shit that’s a long way down.”
At the top of the cliff are the researchers. And they say things like “be patient, help is coming.” But meanwhile I’m hanging here off this cliff, and frankly, my arms aren’t that strong. I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I hope those researchers realize I can’t just hang off the side of this cliff forever. Eventually I’ll fall. I don’t have 5 or 10 years to wait for a new treatment to be fully vetted. I need new things to be available when this rope snaps. Or better still, before it snaps.
So, I’m super happy I’m NED, but I’m also terrified. Because I know how slowly research is happening. It needs to move faster, not just for me, but for my friends whose ropes have already snapped.