Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Looking Back

On November 26, 1997, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease, a form of lymphoma--cancer originating in the lymph system (I just learned from this article, just this very minute, that Paul Allen was treated for Hodgkin's in early 1983). I was 18 years old, a sophomore in college. After six months of chemo and a month of radiation treatment, it was declared to be in remission. Except for a short period the next fall when my oncologist worried that it was coming back (it wasn't), it's been in remission ever since.

I haven't written much about it here. But next summer it will have been in remission for ten years. More than a third of my life will have been lived post-cancer. I've been thinking about that a lot lately; it's part of the excuse reason for my planned train trip in the spring, and it turns out I've forgotten almost everything but the highlights--the date I was diagnosed, the number of treatments, things like that. I don't really want to wallow in the past, but I find myself wanting to revisit those months, to look back and remember what it was like not just to be diagnosed and to be declared in remission, but also to remember what it was like during my seventh chemo treatment, or at what point it was that I shaved my head, or how much more I worried about the boy I had a crush on in April than I did about my low white blood cell count.

This probably won't interest anyone but me, but I think for the next few months I'd like to post a weekly snippet about what I was doing during that time, ten years ago. I'd commit to posting diary excerpts from those days, except that I was 18 and most of my diary entries really were melodramatic accounts of my most recent interaction with whichever classmate I was swooning over that month. So if anything jumps out at me, I'll share it; otherwise it will just be a summary.

Why not start today, while I'm thinking of it, spending far too long browsing online info about lymphoma (I think some of this information has changed since I was obsessively researching it ten years ago), and flipping through old diaries and such?