What do you do when your doctor tells you you're going to die? I asked my husband this question, once.
"Well, I don't really know. He never told me."
And that's true, because my husband made it very clear he didn't want to hear those words. He was 24, we'd been engaged for six days, and he had come out of the sedated haze of his brain surgery.
I knew, of course. While Mike lay in recovery, slowly regaining consciousness under the close supervision of a team of nurses and anesthesiologists, I was sitting with his surgeon in a tiny consultation room, listening to phrases like, "stage four multiform glioma," "18 months," and, "You don't often see people five or 10 years out."
But Mike didn't want to know, so I didn't tell him. Instead, I planned our wedding. Because what would you do with your life if you knew you were supposed to die, soon? You would do whatever you had wanted to do, but might have been too frightened to. You would live as though whatever was most important you was your top priority. And marrying me, well, that was his top priority.
Besides, we were in love with each other. Getting married is what you do when you're in love.
And something miraculous happened. He didn't die. Instead, the experimental trial his doctor has put him in worked. He didn't get better at first, exactly, but he didn't get worse. And nobody knew what that meant.
So, 18 months turned into a giant, open-ended question mark, and we were married, and we did what married people do. We talked about whether or not we wanted to have kids.
I had always known I wanted to be a mum. There was never any doubt in my mind. Mark had always known he wanted to be a dad, it was a sure thing. But... should we?
Every young person with cancer has been through this. Recovery isn't black and white. Recovery is forever. Every year that you live, the likelihood that the cancer is coming back is diminished, but not gone. Never gone. It's something that you'll have on your radar for the rest of your life, and it never ends.
Remission feels inevitable. You don't let it run your life, but every time something feels even the slightest bit off, you wonder, Is this it?