When your cancer fades, you may experience oncology separation anxiety.

For over three years, my oncology appointments were quite frequent. During one stretch of targeted radiation treatments, they were daily. The longest gap was about three weeks, between routine infusion appointments that involved getting my blood drawn for tests (this bloodletting is known euphemistically known as “labs”), seeing my oncologist for a brief appointment, and then getting an IV inserted and sitting in the infusion chair for a while.

Right now, however, I’m partway into a three-month gap. My next appointment will mean a return for “routine scans,” which are of course never routine. Things look promising, but I’m not out of the woods yet. (And why do we always say that like it’s a bad thing? I live out in the woods here in northwest Wisconsin, and the woods are good.)

For a while, especially back in the covid times, altogether too many of my social interactions were in a medical setting. But it was OK. The oncologists and nurses were all very positive and encouraging, and it was a wonderfully supportive environment. Plus, I always looked forward to the diet ginger ale and cookies I was offered while in the infusion chair. I called them my “chemo cookies.”

All this may help explain why my welcome break from the oncology department initially felt less delightful than I’d expected. At first it actually felt uncomfortable. I was feeling some real anxiety, and after a time I realized it was oncology separation anxiety. Eventually, when your cancer fades, you may experience it too.

If you do, remember this: You’ll get over it. Just enjoy the memories.

Author: alcambronne

Retired photographer, author, and cancer survivor living in northwest Wisconsin.