Monday, June 14, 2010

New feelings and fears

Just a quick status check-in from everybody's favorite soon-to-be-cancer survivor.

I'm gonna hammer this post out, so pardon the wordiness and lack of editing. Kids are napping, so time is precious right now.

Ok, it's Monday. The sun is shining, banana bread is baking, mom is coming tomorrow night. The last few days have been interesting for me, emotionally. I have shifted into yet another phase of "coming to grips" with all this. And there seem to be about 9,000 phases of coming to grips with having cancer, because every time I think I have a handle on the whole cancer thing, another aspect of it comes to light and throws me for a loop. Then I learn to deal with that one, and all is well for a bit, then the process repeats itself.

[For the record: All in all, I think Neil and I (and all our family and friends) have done a superb job getting used to the idea that this is all happening and not completely freaking out. So, A+, people.]

Lately however, I have been thinking a lot about what comes next. Let's assume this cancer does in fact GO AWAY soon. That will be awesome!, of course!, and i should be doing back flips over the fact that this seems to be the direction I'm headed. But for some reason I've been fixated on the rotten idea of the cancer someday coming back. How does an ex-cancer patient move on, knowing that the cancer might at any time COME BACK? Maybe in 2 months, maybe a year. Maybe 3 years. Are you ever safe? Can you ever just exhale with relief? THere is no rhyme or reason to it, some cancers simply re-emerge on the scene. Others never do. And I have no idea which camp I'll be in. But how do you go on living with that uncertainty? UGH.

I guess I will just have to choose NOT TO think about it. And just to keep on living, happily and gratefully, all the time keeping the hope alive that my cancer will just have been a fluke thing that is now done and gone and never coming back.

Still, I keep hearing these blasted reports about someone who WAS in remission but now their cancer is back. DAMN CANCER. Why does it do that? I mean, if the chemo kills it all, why would it re-emerge 3 years later? I don't understand this disease. I wish I could go back to those innocent pre-cancer days, when I was invincible and I absolutely KNEW I was going to live to be 100.

I suppose in some ways it's a gift to be grateful for each day you have. To take nothing for granted in life. To be conscious of the fact that it's great to have been here at all. But honestly, I think I'd prefer to be living with blinders on, like I used to, unaware that I could die at any time. It's so much EASIER, not to mention a lot more FUN.

Anyway. I have MY NEXT BIG SCAN on Tues, June 22. This time around my doc has ordered me a PET scan, the granddaddy of all scans, the big kahuna of the scan world (a note to my doctor friends out there: Feel free to correct me if this is not true, and the PET scan is actually a minor scan-- it sure SEEMS like a big deal.) They make you get there really early and over a period of an hour, you have to drink two containers of this vile fluid. You are not allowed to move (!) as movement will cause your body to process the sugars you are ingesting and those will show up on the scan and give you inaccurate results. The idea is, any cancer cells will process the sugars faster than regular cells, because cancer cells are hungry, needy little suckers, and thus they will show up on the scan as darker than the healthy cells. So the goal is to have NO DARK SPOTS on the scan, as those indicate abnormal cells.

Then they inject you with all sorts of biohazards so you light up in the scanner like a Christmas tree. Then they create something like a topographical cross-sectional map of your physiology, so they can see all the mountains and valleys of your your organs. Then, just before you are about to leave, you get violently sick. For about 10 hours. (At least I do, but then again, you know me, I'm such a sensitive girl.)

The fact that my doc ordered me a PET scan and not the ol' standby, the CT scan, shows me he might think this will be the scan where I'll learn that I'm cancer-free. Because it's so comprehensive. And he had told me he hadn't planned on getting me another PET scan until after we learned I was cancer-free.

So. There is a peek inside my head for the week of June 14th, 2010.

And: if you wait a week for my PET scan results, I can show you a peek inside my entire abdomen!


  1. Je me croise tous mes doigts! Boy, is my French terr-ee-bluh! Thinking of you, Shelly.

  2. Wow, intensity. Reading your thoughts, I am amazed by your strength and beauty.