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When one is diagnosed with a chronic illness, one understands this will be most likely a lifelong endeavor. It took me a little while after my rare disease diagnosis until that fact sunk in completely. 

These days, cancer is an ever-present part of our lives. My family is affected by it just as much as I am. Yet, in very different ways. I deal with the persistent side effects of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) as well as the treatments I received for it. 

As you might be able to imagine, scans, tests, and blood work, often can be quite anxiety-inducing. Every time one of these is done, I expect the news to be the most dreadful yet. 

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Hence, the joy of hearing positive news is almost indescribable. This past month, I had my yearly follow-up examination with my oncology team. Yes, I have been able to spread my follow-ups out to a year in between. That alone is a huge cause for celebration.

This time around, I underwent a CT with contrast, as well as my regular blood work. I have talked about the endless rollercoaster of emotions MTC patients go on, in a previous column. It is important though I believe to reiterate this again. 

On this last round of exams, it was different for me, however. It got to the point where others were reminding me of my upcoming tests. They would make a comment about how they would be thinking of me when I had almost completely forgotten this was going to occur.  

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Maybe I can blame the notorious “mom brain” for this memory lapse. Or maybe I was subconsciously keeping myself busy so as not to think about it. But even once I was reminded, I felt calm about these tests. Even on the day of the actual scan, I was eerily low on the anxiety scale. It felt just like any other day, with the exception of going to the cancer institute, of course. 

It took an entire week to get the results of my tests. At that time, many others asked me about the results and therefore reminded me of the fact that I was waiting for them. All I can imagine explaining this is that I somehow knew that this time around my results would be very reassuring. 

During my conversation with my oncologist, I was happy to hear that I am stable. 

This of course is the best news any MTC patient can receive. Since words such as “remission” or “being cancer free,” are not a possibility for us. Hearing “You are stable” is the next best thing. 

What a relief. 

Being stable has so many more implications in my life than just not needing active treatment. It also means my plans for the future do not need to be quite as uncertain and tentative as I have thought. It means there is a chance for a long future. There is a chance I can see my son grow up, maybe even try for second child. There is a chance that MTC will be something I die with instead of from.