There aren’t greeting cards that congratulate a person on not having cancer. I checked.
I don’t mean a card that says “We’re glad you’re not one of the 12,251,757 who are diagnosed annually!” kinda cards. I mean a card that says, “We’re glad your doctor came back and said what he thought could’ve been cancer never was!”
You’d think there’d be outward celebrations everywhere of patients’ elation at being told a growth or “potential positive” test came back as non-cancerous. There must be. But of course you’d never know, especially by the lack of greeting cards and also by the lack of Google results.
And here’s where I got to thinking: The instant you hear from your doctor: “The tests came back; It’s not cancer!” you’re supposed to thank the doctor, slink away, celebrate internally, and hold deference to those 12,251,757 others worldwide who aren’t told that. And more so to the 7,627,761 who die each year worldwide because of cancer.
Cancer’s a shitty thing to deal with. After all, more than 62% of those who are diagnosed never beat it. But there’s a place in our lives to support cancer patients, to celebrate individual patient triumphs, and to support causes that help fight it. And that place is not when my doctor has just told me that I don’t have cancer.
Because the rest of us who are told “you could have cancer” should become the Kanye West to the real cancer patients’ Taylor Swift and invite yourself on stage, paw at the mic, apologize for your exuberance, then lay into why life is so fucking great that a medical professional and his or her team of laboratory scientists have determined that the growth, or lump, or “odd-acting” cells of which you had to provide a sample is not cancer.
And here’s why you — who’s just been told the best fucking news that you’ve probably been told in your life — should celebrate:
- You got the call from the doctor’s office urging you to come in for an appointment.
- You got the stack of lab orders asking for every possible bodily fluid you could provide.
- You showed up to the doctor wondering if you had just months to live.
- You had to hear “some of your lab tests came back and they looked worrisome.”
- You went numb not comprehending much after hearing “It could be cancer.”
- You had to endure the agony of the near-boilerplate answer to all of your questions, which was: “We just won’t know until we conduct more tests.”
- You had to go to sleep every night worrying if you would be fine eventually.
- You had to bust your ass to think positive about what you would do with whatever amount of time left you would have.
So for these and an unending list of the other similar considerations, those of us who are eventually told by our doctors that what was biopsied, what was scanned, or what was removed wasn’t cancer, are allowed to celebrate. Because it’s only after someone is given the time and space to celebrate his or her good news can that person then help yet another person (including cancer patients) celebrate their news worth celebrating.
Everyone gets their chance.