The Day Before Tomorrow

This is the last day of not knowing. Tomorrow I will hear the results of my pet scan, and receive a diagnosis and a plan of action from my oncologist. It’s been a week since he called me in for my ct scan results – enlarged lymph nodes in my left pelvic area that appear to be cancerous.

The pain was assumed to be from a car accident I was in last April. We couldn’t figure out why the pain hadn’t been resolving and I assumed there was a tear in the joint or something similar. I was scheduled to see a physiatrist to determine a course of action. Before that could happen, I had my 6 month appointment with my oncologist. I went back and forth about mentioning the pain to him. He always says to be aware of new and persistent issues, so I described what was going on to him. He decided a ct scan should be done, even though it sounded like it was from the accident, just to be safe.

I received a call the Monday following the ct scan and was told he wanted to see me that afternoon. It triggered a red flag, but I tried my best to not think the worst. In his office, he told me I have enlarged lymph nodes and that it appears to be cancerous. The enlarged lymph nodes are located by the nerves in that area and are pushing on them, resulting in the pain that has been keeping me from sleeping and doing much physical activity. I also appeared to have some spotting near my lungs and he wanted more testing to determine if it’s scarring or something worse. A pet scan was ordered to see what in my body would “light up”, so he could decide a plan of action. A needle biopsy is possible as well.

I appreciate how thorough he is and I trust him with my life. He hugged us and I know he felt awful. I don’t have blood markers. That means even with stage 3 cancer, my blood never showed it was there. Because of this we were unable to do blood draws to look for abnormal signs. We had to wait until I exhibited symptoms. It also kept us from catching this earlier. He mentioned doing another round of chemo with the same drugs to us. That I know how to do, so I’m hopeful that it’s the worst case scenario. I’ll know soon enough.

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Radioactive sugar injection. It’s in a tungsten tube to keep the exposure to a minimum for the person giving the injection.

I went in for my pet scan in Friday. The pet scan involves an injection of sugar based liquid dye that has radioactive tracers. You sit for 45 minutes while it moves through your body. You then lie down and are moved through a tube, much like an MRI. I experienced a moment of panic in the tube. It felt like a coffin. I closed my eyes and repeated to myself, ‘I’m surrounded by stars”, thinking of the darkness behind my eyelids as the desert night sky that I grew up with. It helped and I made it through. I highly recommend finding a comforting mantra to repeat in times of stress like that

That was Friday. Today is Monday. Tomorrow I find out the results. I’ve distracted myself this weekend with outings with friends, a concert, and a dinner and movie date with my wife. Today I went to the gym. I walked the treadmill for a little while and then ended by doing 5 minutes on the elliptical – a first. It may be nothing to others, but it was a milestone.

My body is weak, from years of recovering from car accidents and cancer treatment. I should have worked out more before now, but like many, I got busy living my post-cancer life. I don’t play the shame game and am doing what I can, where I’m at. Soon enough, I’ll know what new path I’m on and we will make a plan. I will keep doing my best to move my body and stay positive. It’s where I’m at. I will communicate with you soon, from the other side of tomorrow.

 

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