I need to admit something. There’s someone else in my life besides Jeremy my husband. His name is NED. I met NED right around the time they removed my breasts. In fact, it was my surgeon who introduced me to NED. She was ecstatic, she thought we’d be a hit from the very start. And she was right, I liked him. He was handsome and clean. I like clean. At first I felt really relieved to meet NED. I had this image in my mind of what NED would be like, perfect actually…. absolutely perfect. I figured NED and I could go on living together and we’d be one big happy family. I figured Jeremy would get used to this other person in my life. I like NED and I figured he would too.
But after a while I realized that just like Jeremy, NED comes with his own issues. I mean….you know, he looks clean, he wasn’t fat or anything like that, he fit “within the margins” of what a good-looking person should look like, but then he got kind of high maintenance on us. For example, we’d just be going along alright, everyone getting along and he’d make a really big issue out of nothing. He’d insist it was a problem and we’d have to stop everything and focus on NED. Like he was the only one in our family. Jeremy would take it in stride, but I’d get worked up. Sure, I’d try to look cool and collected, but NED really was making me mad and sad all at the same time. He can be very selfish sometimes.
Then sometimes NED would be so great we’d just forget about him. We’d forget even that he was a part of the family. We’d get going in the busyness of life and forget how great NED actually was and how much we liked having him around. Sometimes we would get irritated with each other or we’d just plain ignore NED and yell at each other. We really wanted NED to be a reminder of how much people matter, family matters, but sometimes he’d be so quiet we’d just plain forget.
NED was always great about accompanying me to all my doctor appointments. Even after my plastic surgery and my little nip/tucks, he would remind me he was still here. The doctor would come out of surgery and say something nice about NED like “so glad to see NED in surgery.” This always made me happy.
Sometimes I would get scared I lost NED, if he left for a little while I got nervous, but he never really actually left me. After my scans or procedures, or little cancer scares, handsome NED would pop his head up over the scan machine and say “boo! you thought I was gone, didn’t you!” And I’d laugh and give NED a hug. Sometimes I’d even cry when I’d see NED. It would make me so scared when I thought he was gone.
The kids are a little confused by NED, but they really don’t fully understand why he needs to be here. Cancer was confusing to them too. It’s better this way I think. I don’t really want them to fully understand just yet. Sometimes they ask me questions like “Why do you have to have cancer mommy?” I remind them I don’t have cancer because NED came to live with us instead. It usually resolves their curiosity until the next time they see me getting in the shower or changing my clothes and I have to remind them again why NED is here.
The truth is, Jeremy and I are best friends. We’re inseparable. When I want to share something cool that happened to me during the day, I think of Jeremy. When I want someone to comfort me when I’m sad, I want Jeremy. But I’m quite fond of NED. I think NED is an important part of my life. He’s not always easy to live with, but I’d prefer his moody nature, than to live without him.
So after two years with NED, we’ve decided he can stay, and we really hope and pray he decides to stick around too.
Meet NED; an abbreviation for No Evidence of Disease.This is the term they give my cancer status. I hope NED sticks around, how about you?
By Jen Starr-Reivitt