Re-Mission

Mitch Schneider
May 9, 2021

I promised to write about remission in my last blog. My intention was to do that early last week, but software failures absorbed the time like a Black Hole gobbles up galaxies.

That’s really a copout. I wasn’t ready to tackle the idea of remission at the beginning of the week. I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle it now.

Having someone tell you you’re in remission is like buying a new pair of shoes. You need to wear them for a while in order to break them in before you feel comfortable wearing them all the time. They may look good, and you know you want to wear them. But they still don’t feel right. At least, not until you get used to them.

I started working my way through that discomfort by trying to define remission knowing that definitions are really nothing more than descriptions.

As far as I can tell, there are three ways to look at definitions and descriptions in this context. The first is in how we describe ourselves. The second, in how we describe others. And, the third, in how we internalize the way we are perceived and then defined by others.

When we are young, we internalize those descriptions to help form an image of ourselves. We become who we think the important people in our lives think we are or should be. If we’re lucky, that changes as we mature and are able to create an image of ourselves more consistent with who we wish to be.

Before my diagnosis, I had a pretty good idea of who I was and what I was all about. I was a husband and a father. A business owner, trade journalist, and educator. After my diagnosis I suddenly found myself defined and described as a cancer patient.

Back to the Mission

It took years to reconcile my sense of self with that definition. Even now, I’m not sure I was ever successful. Then I became a stem cell/bone marrow transplant candidate. Another externally imposed definition. And now, I’m in remission.

I spent a lifetime carefully crafting an image of who I was consistent with who I wished to become when that description was stripped away replaced by a new definition. First, as a cancer patient. And then as a transplant recipient. Now, just as suddenly, that’s all gone. I’m in remission, but still a little shaky about what that means.

Remission comes from the Latin, remittere. It means to send back or restore. That’s what the prefix ‘re’ is all about. Back. But that’s deceiving. Especially, when it comes to cancer. I’m not sure you can go back. Nor am I sure you can be fully restored. What I am sure of is that remission is an opportunity to redefine who you are based upon what you’ve learned throughout your cancer journey.

For me, it’s right there in the construction of the word: re-mission. Back to the mission. But it’s more than that. It’s about building a new you and that’s what I’m struggling with as I write this.

Who will that new you be?

Especially, now that I get to start over. To build something new. To build someone new.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really curious to see who that new me is going to be all about.



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