[cancer] A brief return of The Fear

Longtime readers will recall my Excellent Cancer Adventures of the past year. Had my quarterly followup with my cancer surgeon today, during which we scheduled the colonoscopy and CT scans for the one-year followup this coming May, just after the one-year anniversary of my surgery.

Afterwards, in the car, I had an outbreak of The Fear. (See also here: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ].) I’ve recently experienced an odd moment of grief [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ], and since then, some deep melancholy, on the day Escapement Powell’s | Amazon ] was released in mass market paperback. (That was an echo of the fact that I first went into the hospital on the day that Mainspring Powell’s | Amazon thb | Audible ] was released in mass market paperback.)

This was different.

I’d been talking to my doc about what we were looking for in the tests. Specifically, tumor recurrence in the colon, lymph system or liver; as well as any polyps which might have been too small to be detected last year when various medical professionals went spelunking in my fine and private places. This was pretty sobering, although not particularly alarming in medical terms.

After the consult, I felt fussy, angry, stressed out. I sat in my parked car talking to about the tests and what they meant, then suddenly burst into tears. Just overwhelmed.

Because I am afraid of what we might find.

My doctor is as optimistic as he can be, but until we look, we will not know. We must look, we must know, but for a few minutes I was back in the Big Cancer Fear of last April and May. was very sweet and understanding, talking me down in part by telling me I’d gone to a dark and scary place. In the context of colon cancer, this suddenly seemed very funny. It’s hard to laugh and cry at the same time.

The fear is purely emotional. Medically I’m as good as I can be. These tests are purely risk management and good followup. Yes, something might be there, but if it is, I’ll beat that like I beat this last round of cancer. Emotional or not, it’s real.

And today I realize that the Big Cancer Fear will never really die. It doesn’t keep me awake at night or stalk my dreaming mind, but it’s with me. It always will be. With my own strong heart and the love of my friends and family, I will always be better than The Fear.

7 thoughts on “[cancer] A brief return of The Fear

  1. Matt Staggs says:

    Hang in there, man! You’re stronger than you know.

  2. Tamara says:

    I also have hit-or-miss dealings with anesthesia. When I went in for my abdominal surgery a few years ago, I wrote notes to both of my children because I was so terrified I’d never wake up. One of them found my notebook later and asked me if I thought I was going to die. Busted. But how to tell your 6- and 9-year-olds?

    I get that same deep stomach dread every time I get a mole or other skin anomaly biopsied (couple times a year.) I also have a weird heart dysfunction which is rather common in women of my age, but let me tell you, when that arrhythmia kicks in for its brief 3-5 seconds, one’s life does seem to pass before the eyes.

    Fear of mortality. You know you’re a grownup when you know this fear well enough to understand that it can never go away.

    Silver lining: you’re not alone, Jay. And the fear of mortality is what compels us to do the living of life with even more purpose and urgency.

    I didn’t know about your Excellent Cancer Adventures last year but I’m glad you made it through them okay and am *certain* that a guiding light like yourself can look forward to many Excellent Adventures in the future that are c-free. Be well, dude.

    Tamara Sellman

  3. Mary Kay says:

    Hugs if you want’em.

    Hang in there — I suspect you’re a good risk.


  4. emeraldcite says:

    fingers crossed for you.

  5. As I said on Twitter: Sorry to hear about ‘The Fear’ striking you, and hope you find reprieve tonight. I *know* you will always be better than The Fear.

  6. David says:

    Jay, hang in there. Fear makes us human, it is part of our existence.
    Still, I’m sure you will be able to control it, and deal with it when it crawls from those dark places…
    We’re with you!

  7. Joe says:


    Fear is a liar. It whispers worst-case scenarios in your ear, over and over, until they seem likely, or real, or inevitable–and that’s just not so.

    Recognizing fear for what it is won’t stop you from being sucked into a pit emotionally. It’s pretty hard for your head to persuade your heart, and so easy for emotion to dupe intellect.

    But seeing fear for what it is can help you climb back into the sun a little faster. Sometimes, that’s the best we can do.

    Next time fear comes calling, tell yourself: “Fear is a liar. Fear is a liar. Fear is a liar. It promises things that just aren’t true. I’m well, and I’m working hard to stay that way.”

    And just keep repeating it. Because that, good man, IS the truth.

    Okay, Bub. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers (yeah, yeah, I know you don’t go in for that kind of thing. Humor me.)


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