Scan time has come and gone again. The time that is somehow capable of sending me into an oblivion of fear and unwanted thoughts that swish and swirl around in my mind until I feel like I’m trapped beneath the surface of the sea, drowning. And I know better than to let that happen. I know that the devil is going to use any and all tactics to invade my thoughts with fear and doubt, but y’all…I’ve still let it happen every time. Some times it’s a week before scan day and sometimes its just a few days before, but I’ve yet to show up to an MRI so far (and I’ve had 4 sets) without spending some amount of time losing my mind over the what ifs.
As with most things along the cancer/survivor journey, it’s hard to explain quite what scanxiety feels like enough for someone on the outside looking in to fully understand, but if you ask anyone that’s faced diagnostic or follow-up scans, they’ll all tell you the same.
This time always brings me back to reflection and feeling overwhelmed at the love, blessing, and support I’ve been afforded. From getting the job at UAB Radiation Oncology (with an English degree) to feeling the internal urgency to get Glanda checked on again after 7 years of undertermined scans, to having the strange instinct to ask one of our doctors to take a second look at my scans (Thank you, Lord), to having a completely benign diagnosis going into surgery, and then being able to be treated in my own department and able to work each and every day to some capacity all the way through treatment. And that’s truly only the tip of the iceberg. Blessings starting happening YEARS before any of this ever came about. But those seemingly normal events have been revealed as preparatory events that led me this exact moment. The Lord is so good!
This time around, we’re roughly 1 year, 1 month, and 9 days post-treatment. An MRI soft tissue of the head and neck was ordered per usual accompanied by an appointment with my radiation oncologist. Except things ended up being slightly backwards due to insurance complications. Typically I have scans at 7am followed immediately by my appointment where I find out if I’m still NED. But this time I had my appointment (physical exam) on Wednesday and my scans on Thursday morning at 7am…which means I had much longer to wait to find out if my scans were clear or not. Not to mention, at the time of my appointment we had yet to convince insurance that an MRI was necessary for my care.
I went home Thursday evening with no news and a foul attitude. By noon on Friday, I still hadn’t heard a peep about anything and my thoughts were starting to overtake me again. It NEVER takes that long to read the report. Ever. Were they trying to figure out how to tell me it was back? Were they unsure of what they were seeing? Were they seeing something totally new?
The radiologist had seen something. Something between C5 and C7.
I swallowed hard and continued to listen as my radiation oncolgist continued to explain what her impression was…underwhelmed. She didn’t see anything, except the inflammation in my spinal cord that we’ve known about for some time now, but she wanted specific confirmation from a specific radiologist who was out of town last week.
As we continue to wait for final confirmation, we are resting in the fact that no one saw anything scary on my scans, even though there was the mention of “something.” And we are choosing to believe that that news is going to hold. Until then, life shall march on…onward and upward.