One of the phrases that gets under my skin during this pandemic is “the new normal.” I won’t go into why that phrase irks me right now, but I’ve found that it can also apply to living with melanoma. At least it does after you’ve beaten it back and have a few clean scans under your belt. Or at least it does after I’ve beaten it back and have a few clean scans under my belt. I’m only speaking for myself here.
On Tuesday, Lynn and I received the news that my latest scans again showed no evidence of active disease. Today, I received emails letting me know that the radiologists’ reports for those scans had been posted to my online account. Normally (there’s that word again), I would have logged right in and scoured the reports for any hint of the smallest area of concern. Radiologists are paid to look for stuff and report every little thing that they see. That’s their job. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that they do that and I hope that they do it well and don’t miss anything. It’s just that, I’m not eager to look for something wrong when I’ve already been told by my doctor that nothing is wrong. I’m putting my trust in him and letting him handle the medical details. So, I guess that represents a new normal for me.
When I was first diagnosed, we tried to find out everything that we could about my melanoma. We sought second and third opinions, and we scoured the internet trying to figure out what to do and what to expect. When I got diabetes and colitis as side effects of immunotherapy, we researched the hell out of those things, too. That was far from normal, and it consumed a lot of our time and mental energy. At first we didn’t know if the therapy would work, and then we weren’t sure if the therapy wouldn’t kill me. There was a lot we didn’t know and we were fumbling in the dark looking for the light switch.
Now, after 16 months of clean scans, neither of us feels the need to question everything or to follow the latest research. I know that would change if I got a not-so-good scan, but for now we’re kind of putting melanoma in the back of our minds and focusing on other things. That’s the new normal around here.