I watched as my oncologist heaved open my giant medical folder. “I’ve got a big chart,” I said, laughing. “At Dr. Jeffrey’s office, they created a Part 2 for me.” As a long-term survivor of stage four cancer, I’ve seen many doctors for years.

“Yes, well, a big chart is better than the alternative,” my doctor said, kindly. We’ve been filling up this folder together for seven years now. In addition to lab results and checkup notes, I’ve seen Dr. Paxton scribble recommended book titles and the names of my husband and stepsons in that file. When I became a vegan, he wrote it on the inside cover.

For this appointment, I came knowing I was doing okay. The results of my every-three-month blood tests usually are revealed during these appointments, but a couple of days before, I found myself shaking with tears and curled up in a ball in my swivel chair trying to work in my home office. My prayers were desperate, and I just knew the cancer was back. Even though I had no symptoms, I knew it.

So I called the office instead of waiting. The nurse told me the results were normal; we were both relieved. The anxiety can be more malignant than the tumors.