Punchy Mommy Believes in Life

How I evicted the worst uninvited overnight guest and took back my life

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First it was daughter, sister, friend, student, then came wife, attorney, mother, and…cancer patient. Who knew I would collect so many identities by the age of 32? The thing about these is that they just happen. It’s a part of life I guess. They enter silently, settle in, and seamlessly become a part of who you are. I never noticed them before because I accepted them. Most I chose, the rest I could live with. But cancer patient? No thank you. Not now, not ever. There was no meeting of the minds for this one, no consideration. This label was a deal breaker.

I went to the post office a few days ago. I approached the next available window and shortly after I stepped up, the attendant, a middle age man with friendly features, asked,  You a vet?  Me? No, I’m not a vet. I thought, what the heck is this guy thinking? Surely I do not look like a finely tuned fighting machine. Oh, he said with a pause, I’m a vet. I like you’re hair cut.

I started to smile ear to ear as it dawned on me. I am no longer a cancer patient. I’m a survivor. Now that’s an identity I can live with.


I had a PET scan on April 8, 2013, which was actually a re-scan from a PET scan I had 6 weeks earlier. That scan showed that the remaining mass had an SUV of 2.4, which is very low and not likely to be active disease, I’m told. But, according to the Deauville Criteria, active disease is measured by the SUV of the mediastinum blood pool, the blood that regularly collects in your chest. My mediastinum blood pool was registering an SUV of 1.8, therefore, that scan was technically positive. The controversy lies in whether or not to use the Deauville Criteria. Not all hospitals use it. Oz uses it and therefore, we were concerned. So, I had another PET scan on April 8th. This scan showed that the remaining mass had an SUV of 2.0 and that my mediastinum blood pool was 2.0. This scan was unquestionably negative.

I’ll never forget one of the most dreadful grade school rituals. Recess was always after lunch in grade school. After spending many long and boring hours inside, I longed to go outside, get some sun, run around, and otherwise completely forget all the work we had done early doing reading, writing, and arithmetic. We scarfed our lunches in a desperate attempt to add time to the already to short recess. Then,we quickly cleaned up after lunch. We were ready to bolt out the door for recess, but our teacher always stopped us and made us to do the unthinkable. Bellies full from lunch, twitchy and excited to get out, we were made to line up at the door. We had to be in a perfectly straight line and we had to be silent before he/she opened the door to let us out. Why oh why did we have to be silent? Why did it matter? Just let us OUT already! I wanted to scream, and most likely did scream, if you knew me back in the day. This process always took longer than it should have because it was either me or my friends who could never be quiet. Our giggling and secrets that-had-to-be- told-at -that-very-moment could not be corked. Eventually though, we fell silent, realizing that we were only punishing ourselves. And, at that very moment when we were silent and lined perfectly our teacher would open the door. The sun blasted us just as the door was opened, and as though we were in a mosh pit, we all lunged forward at the same time towards the door. As my foot crossed the threshold, I would jump up. Arms and legs extended into the air, wind in my hair, sun in my face, not a care in the world for the next hour, and I would yell YAHOOOOOO!

I am cancer free.


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