The cancer centre I go to is divided into different clinics. When I arrive for my appointment, I check the main board in the lobby and head to the clinic where my oncologist is working that day. Sometimes I'm lucky and I'm in clinic A. Sometimes I have to walk through A and B to get to clinic C.
The clinics each have their own waiting room full of patients in varying states of health. It's difficult to not feel observed when walking through the clinics. The waiting rooms are full of silver-haired patients and patients who were bald long before cancer took hold. Young adult cancer is not rare but it's rare enough to warrant curious glances. I don't begrudge the looky-loos. Whenever I see someone in my age bracket I turn into a looky-look myself.
I've passed the "maybe she just ate a burrito?" stage of pregnancy. My belly is round and the pain in my hips forces my gait into a slow-and-steady-almost-waddle. I am unprepared for the barrage of sympathetic looks directed at me as a pregnant woman in a cancer centre and it makes me mean. "I'm not one of you," I want to hiss. I earned my NED. I'm here for monitoring and more tests and poking and prodding and reassurance. I'm not here because I'm sick. I'm here to put another notch in my five-year-clock bedpost, to move one step closer to being officially declared "cured." Feeling defensive is not productive or particularly healthy but it's the protective cloak I wrap around myself to survive the (slow) walk from the main lobby to my clinic. I realize as I check in and sit down in the waiting room that I am one of them. We're all here for monitoring and more tests and poking and prodding and reassurance.
Being pregnant after cancer messes with your mind. I have spent the past few years willing things not to grow in my body. My blood has been tested and my hormones levels have been watched religiously. And then I got pregnant and all of a sudden the things I wanted most in the world were for something foreign to grow in my body and my hormone levels to change. Being pregnant after cancer is a gift so many are not lucky enough to receive and I don't take it lightly. But I'd be lying if I said it was easy or even enjoyable. Being pregnant after cancer feels like a science experiment. A drawn out science experiment where you have to wait 40 weeks for the results.
Patience is not something that comes easily for me. I like plans and decisive action. "Watch and wait" is torturous. But I will wait and I will breathe through the anxiety and uncertainty and in the spring this broken body of mine will deliver a baby. I've never felt so lucky.