I have a big day on Thursday – the four month PET scan. In my story, the scan is clear, aka cancer free, and I live happily ever after. Are you with me?
I’m keeping it simple, but that’s the gist, and I need everyone on board. Connect with your prayer groups, light your candles, cross your fingers and toes, send your healing energy my way, think positive, visualize a clear scan – I’m looking for your best effort here, whatever your best effort looks like.
It’s scheduled for 7:20 am. I know you’re not all morning people. Grab a cup of coffee for me, since I have to fast, and join the collective circle of support. I know there’s no guarantee, but I know this can’t hurt.
I’ll find out the results a day or two later. If it’s clear, I will still need to finish three more chemo infusions, the last one on June 11, but I will be done with the treatment protocol. I will be cancer free.
Cancer is challenging for a lot of reasons, but getting comfortable with putting my normal life on pause has been very difficult.
Patience has never been my strong suit, but as I’ve gotten older, I thought I was getting a little better at it. I was wrong. It’s wearing thin. Actually, it snapped a few days ago. It was not pretty. I could tell my blotchy, tear stained face and the “I’m sick of this” that eeked out between sobs caught my oncologist off guard. “Tell me what’s going on,” he said.
No one likes a complainer. Get over yourself, I always think, when listening to someone whine. Change your situation. Choose your attitude. Someone always has it worse. While I can’t change my current situation, I can certainly choose my attitude. Most days, I’m successful. Just last week, I attended a stress management training at work. The facilitator asked, “Who started this gray, rainy day thinking it was going to be a great day?” I was one of only a few who raised their hand. I think I’m mostly successful starting each day with a positive attitude. I know the day may bring brain fog, stomach issues, and a low energy level, but I know I can choose the attitude with which I face these challenges.
My positivity is being tested. “I’ve been so fortunate with the side effects, I hate to complain,” I told Dr. Asik. “The headaches used to only be for a day or two, but each chemo, they’ve lasted longer and longer.” “Is your head pounding?” he asked. I struggled to find the words to describe the pain. I wake up the Sunday morning after a Tuesday chemo infusion feeling a combination of dull pain behind my forehead and eyes and a general fogginess that makes it a challenge to engage in conversation with my family. The headaches have extended further and further into the week.
I have a lot of allergies, and can break out in hives, so usually I limit pain relief to Tylenol. That has had no effect on the pain. We discussed options, which included a prescription for Percocet or trying a higher than normal dose of Advil. I decided to try the Advil. It hasn’t eliminated the headaches, but it’s reduced the pain and allowed some moments of clarity.
I’m a little tired of this. Actually, if you’ve been around me lately, you know I’m a lot tired of this. Just yesterday, my husband mentioned his friend Chuck had checked in, thinking I was done with the chemo, based on the original timetable. “Did you tell him I am hanging on by my fingernails?” I asked. My husband replied a little too quickly, “Yup.”
A clear scan will pull me back from the ledge. I’ll still get headaches. My energy level will still require hanging out with Bucky on the couch. There will still be a wave of panic on the Monday night before chemo. Tears will still be near the surface. But a definite end will be in sight.
What if the scan is not clear? What if the cancer reoccurs at some point in the future? What else can I do, but go to plan B? Stay tuned.