Sunday, January 13, 2019

Another Clear Scan - Still in Remission

On December 12th I was in Manhattan at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for my annual CT scan and blood work. The scan came back negative so today I remain CANCER-FREE. Seven years with no detectable sign of cancer which means two years officially in remission. Amen!


After my scan and blood work, I had some time to kill so the results could be determined. I went to a great coffee shop called Ground Central and had a delicious cup then went for lunch in Grand Central Station of all places. I had a craving for a little something from the Lower Level Dining Concourse and it was quicker to go to Grand Central than to trek across town to the next closest location. Once I was well fed, I started my walk back to the clinic. As I began to near the block on which the clinic is located, I started to wonder what the scan results would be. I imagined how I would respond if the scan came back positive. I ran through the conversation I’d be having with my doc about where in my body the mets were discovered. Immediately I thought of the boys and the significant possibility of my death and no longer being in their lives. Tears began to well up in my eyes. It hurt. I wasn’t arguing with the idea of death. Ok. Actually, I was. I’m not up for it right now. It means so much to have living parents in our lives and I if I had any say, I’d say I want that for the boys. My father passed when I was thirty-three, fifteen years ago, and I still wish we’d had more time together as adults. Yes, I am blessed to have had the time we had, and I wish we had more. And I want the boys to have the same.

So as I imagined the conversation with my doc about how the cancer treatment would go. I also wondered how difficult the treatment might be and how much I’d be able to work. Those thoughts were there for both diagnoses. How much will I be able to work? Will I be able to be a part of the boys lives or will I be too sick from treatment to have what it takes? And I imagined the many hours of tears blended with the many hours of gratitude for nearly forty-nine years of living.
Then I saw my doc and she told me my scan and blood work were clear.

I texted my family, and some friends who knew I was seeing my doc, to say I’m in the clear. Daniela responded and shared her joy with me and asked how I felt. I didn’t have to look far as I began to cry, so happy to have more time to live.

I’m one of those folks who keeps death close to my heart or perhaps at the forefront of my mind. Or both...? It’s one of the ways I remind myself tomorrow is promised to no one. My body somehow endured the surgeries and treatments that went with two pretty substantial cancer diagnoses. How am I still here? I have no idea. Lucky I guess. I keep these thoughts close. They serve me well.

As a child, the saying “Live like today is your last” used to mean getting crazy. Doing everything I’d never done before and always wanted to do. Today it means making sure people know I love them. As I walked out the clinic and rounded the corner where I was walking and crying just hours before, I saw a group of happy folks soliciting people. They were smiling and working hard to engage passersby, so I looked one in the eye and I said, “What do ya got?” She spoke to me about children dying all around the world from hunger, diarrhea, and other issues that are easily resolved here in the USA. She pushed hard for a $33/mo commitment. Then her co-worker chimed in. I told them I would love to and simply can’t afford it. She pushed again. I acknowledged her for her relentless stand for these children, told her I love her and went on my way. The awareness of death always seems to keep love present in my mind.

On my way home on the bus, my mind was foggy and my mouth tasted odd from the prednisone and Benadryl I take to hold off further bad reactions to the contrast used to enhance the CT imaging. My body hurt from the effects of the contrast. My body hurt from my lack of sleep I got the previous  night from the prednisone as well as the anticipation of the scan.  (I'm going to find out if there are any less intrusive alternatives to prednisone). And I imagine my body hurt from my mind’s wondering if I was going to be signing up for more surgery and whichever therapies would be recommended. It’s how it goes. I took the day that followed slow and easy.  No work, just rest. Plus I visited a wonderful little aquarium store after my appointment and picked up three really great little creatures called Kuhli Loaches to add to our little aquarium community at home. It was quite an exhausting day and it was a good day.