Saturday, May 28, 2022

When can I be free of worrying about a recurrence of Cancer?


Bone scan with bone metastases 

A cancer recurrence isn't something anyone ever expects and as a survivor, we do our best to not think about the possibility of a recurrence. But occasionally, we get a reality check. Though we want to believe we're completely and utterly cancer free, a random test or procedure can break that glass bubble reminding us that there's always a possibility of its return. 

For the past few days, I've been anxious. I've tried to overcome the nagging feeling that something is about to happen. I don't know what the "something" is, but I definitely feel like something is just over the horizon. My feelings of anxiousness are probably related to the upcoming full body bone scan my oncologist recently scheduled. Though I've had them several times over the past 7+ years, I never once gave a thought to the possibility of them finding something. 

It's strange how God works things out. I'd been having issues swallowing and the ENT wanted to do a CT scan. That scan didn't reveal my swallowing problem but did reveal a possible tumor on my right lung. That's when I was forced to think about the big "what if." 

After contacting my oncologist to let him know about that test, he scheduled me for a chest CT with and without contrast. Though he was wanting to clarify the potential problem in my right lung, which was later determined to be scar tissue from radiation treatments,  a new area of concern appeared on the T6 vertebrae. 

Those test results caused his office to schedule a nuclear medicine full body bone scan. (That's a mouthful, isn't it?) Though they didn't tell me why, I assumed it was to look for cancer. Since hearing the words uttered, "area of concern," uttered by the oncologist's office, I've borrowed a whole lot of trouble. I've let my mind wander, letting it dip into the vast ocean of what ifs. 

It's funny, but I assumed when I reached the 7 year cancer free mark last July, that I was home free. I mean Biblically speaking, 7 is the number of completion right? But was I being naive in thinking my bout with cancer was completely over? I wanted to believe that trial from God's hand was over but what if...

Three days from today, I'll go in for the scan. They'll inject a radioactive tracer into my vein and 3 hours later, I'll return so they can scan my entire body. I'm praying that nothing lights up. I'm hoping that the "area of concern" at T6 is just degenerative disk disease or osteoarthritis or something minor like that. If it is cancer, I don't know what I'll do. 

I have several friends who've gone long stints of being cancer free only to have the cancer return many years later. One of the longest periods of cancer freedom was in my friend Bonnie Ferguson's life. She went 22 years without a recurrence and I can still remember the day she told me it was back. I could hear the tremor in her voice. I could see the worry on her face. 

She went straight back into warrior mode and began treatments at the cancer treatment center. For the first few weeks, she was hopeful, but as her body began to weaken, she decided it wasn't worth it to do chemo again. When she stopped, she felt better but it was only months later that she grew extremely ill and eventually passed away. I don't want that to be the case with me. 

When my brother was diagnosed with cancer, he only did 2 chemo treatments before giving up. They made him so sick he couldn't continue. Cancer and the treatments wreak havoc on the body. 

So, I don't know what I'll do. I guess I'll have to wait for the test results. If they find more cancer, I'm sure I'll be shocked, especially after almost 8 years, but I'll also have to trust that God has a reason for allowing it into my life. 

I'm no saint, believe me, but I do know, from past experience, that God handpicks our trials. I just hope He doesn't have another round of cancer on His agenda of scheduled trials for me. 

We can't understand why He allows such hard things into our lives sometimes, but if we try to look at them as teaching tools, they're a little easier to accept. 

Please say a pray for me on May 31st at 9:00 a.m. That's when I go for the radioactive injection. They always have trouble finding my veins, especially since I can only have injections in my left hand. And then later that same day, around noon, please pray again as I go in for the actual scan. Pray that if there is a problem it will be illuminated clearly so the doctor can see it. But if I had my druthers, I'd like to ask for a completely clear and perfect scan result. I know God's able. 

Waiting isn't my strong suit, never has been, never will be, but I'm going to do my best to wait patiently. I'm also going to do my best not to worry. A friend told me earlier today that worry will just rob my day of strength. I think she's right. Worrying never accomplishes a thing other than giving us something to do. 

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers. I'll keep you posted. Now off to do some crafting!

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