Friday, October 2, 2015

Return to Stillness

I feel peaceful again. I don't feel anxious or scared about the possibility of recurrence as I did on September 23rd.

Just days prior to my meeting with Dr. Kemeny, I had finished a silent retreat with Zen Buddhist teacher Adyashanti. And fortunately it was not completely silent and I was able to have a short conversation with him about my fears of recurrence or more specifically, my fears of a recurrence of the combined debilitating circumstances I found myself struggling through from 2010-2012. In essence what I came away from the conversation with was an awareness of what's available out of "letting the feelings in." And how not letting them in, is in fact to resist them. And so it was two days following my conversation with the doctor that I remembered to let the feelings in. Initially I found myself repeatedly letting them in. Over and over, each time my mind recreated the fear. Yet by the end of the day I felt peaceful. Wednesday evening, worrying about money the fear returned, though not nearly as powerfully as it had upon hearing Dr. Kemeny's concerns about my scan. And eventually the fear dissipated.

Right now I'm clear I have nothing to fear because there is no sign of cancer in my body. And should another wave of fear roll in, I know what to do with it. It really is all self-generated. I find that quite comforting.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Not bad news. A little less than good news.

Today was another oncology appointment - a routine four-month scan and blood work. Dr. Kemeny came into the exam room and said, "Everything is fine." I responded by reminding her that come October 28th, I will be four years cancer-free. She said, "After four years we only do scans every six months. However..." and she began flipping through the radiologists CT report... "they're reporting a small indeterminable nodule on one of the lobes of one of your lungs, which I couldn't see when I looked at the scan. And I've been looking for it. So I don't want to go to six-month scans with you yet. I want to see you in four months and be sure this is nothing, ok?" I said ok and we said we'd see one another in four months. I walked out to the waiting room with that far too familiar feeling of floating out of the oncologists office that shows up whenever the doc gives me reason to wonder if I'm going to be okay, and I found myself in the waiting room walking aimlessly. I suddenly had the thought, "The road goes on forever and the party never ends." It's odd what pops into the mind randomly when contemplating the possibility of fighting for ones life again. I also noticed at the same time, my mind trying to think of ways to not spend the next four months anxiously waiting for my next scan. We all know where trying to not think of an elephant will get you. So at the moment, what's so, is that my scan was clear of any signs of cancer. And I'll deal with the wondering as it comes. And it usually comes in waves.

Early on after my first diagnosis was treated and no longer detectable, I asked my doc why they generally stop the CT scans after five years; why they don't keep scanning and looking for disease just in case. He said at that point, it can turn into a witch hunt. And if you scan anybody's body enough times, you're eventually going to find something that appears odd. So perhaps something just appeared odd. The cancer markers in my body are currently very low, below normal in fact. However, I had low cancer markers the first time I was diagnosed. But the second time, the count was above normal. So who knows. Right now I'm cancer-free. I'm not going to get hung up in the world of what if. And as I said, I'll deal with the waves as they come.