Will cancer rear its ugly head?

You can ask any cancer survivor. Once you get that diagnosis, it sits on your shoulders. Forever. The routine monitoring is no longer routine. It’s a big deal. Not in what actually happens but because of what might happen.

I had breast cancer nine years ago. It took two years before the fear left me only returning during the routine testing. I could sleep through the night without the dreadful 3 a.m. “oh my God I am going to die” episodes. There is something very sinister about 3 a.m. It’s my least favorite time of the day.

Because my diagnosis and eventual treatments were in last quarter of the year, the dreaded testing always happened during the holidays. That little cancer icon sat on my shoulders until I heard the results.

There was one scare several years ago and it was a big one. They found something and everyone, radiologist and surgeon, was sure it was cancer. It was in the other breast which I was assured was a new cancer rather than the old one recurring. I don’t know if that made it better or worse.

With the holidays it took 6 weeks until I could get through all the subsequent testing and get to the final definitive diagnosis. It was not cancer. Good news but it didn’t come with a “do over” for those holidays.

The lesson here was to delay the testing – not a lot – just until January. I did that for this year. Then the dreaded sequence happened. The mammogram showed something so they reviewed an MRI which showed something. Neither test was definitive so now there is a PET CT. It takes a week to be able to get in for the test. One week of high anxiety alternating with the “land of denial.”

Siemens PET CT

Siemens PET CT

My head tapes range from “it’s probably nothing” to “I’m gonna die” and everything in between.

The “land of denial” is a wonderful place to be. It’s just like normal. There are no cares or worries. Nothing bad can happen. It is interrupted occasionally by some need to focus on the test or by the silly mind. Of course that happens at 3 a.m. For heaven’s sake you can’t even medicate with a Starbucks at that time.

Excuse me but I must travel back to the “land of denial.” This time I have my mocha latte with me and three purring cats. Perhaps it will be nothing or…..

Photo credits: Wikipedia

36 thoughts on “Will cancer rear its ugly head?

  1. Pingback: Cancer scare follow-up | Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

  2. Oh Kate, it’s tough, and 3 am is always a bad time… what wonderful advice your blogging friends have given you. I hope you can live one moment, one day at a time until you know where you are, and can face whatever is the truth… not knowing is the worst,.but as my grandson once said to me ” grannie, everything passes…” Thinking of you….


  3. I hit the like button not because I like cancer because I like to seeing your footprint in my e-mail. The “C” word, heaven forbid . I am sorry to hear about your situation especially if you wake up at 3 a.m. and no Starbucks. I can only offer my prayers that you may have the courage to go through it all. Deny if you must but in the mean time, yah, Mocha and cats will do the tricks. Take Care, fill us in and we will comfort you.


  4. I personally have not to deal with what you are right now, but I truly understand what you are going through from my Mom and several close friends. My thoughts and prayers are with you and when my 3 a.m. fears have me awake I will think of you and do my best to generate positive thoughts that all will be fine for you.


  5. You and I had the same kind of Holiday this year. Right before Christmas I got “the Call.” I had to go in for more tests. That showed “something” and on Wednesday I have to go in for a biopsy. Sigh. I hate the waiting!


  6. This is no way to start a new year! I was never good at submitting to things I couldn’t control. Since I haven’t traveled your road, my comments feel weak. Just trusting that all will be well is about all I can offer…and lean on your friends on the good days and off-putting ones. I’ve got my money on only good news upcoming!


    • What news? Oh! I am in the land of denial at this moment! One way or the other, I will come through. If not, it was my time to go. What I can’t stand is the anxiety of waiting for the information.


  7. I’ve also been through this for decades (mine ‘positive’ was melanoma) – but I used to have a wonderful breast specialist whose attitude was to remove the lump asap if you had high anxiety. It seemed the only way to “know for sure”. Now they put us through all kinds of you know what, to avoid surgery – which could so often be done with a local (he also avoided general anesthesia). At times like this – enjoy the denial and the here and now — I’ll hate them all for you 🙂 just for now….


    • Thanks. Melanoma is one of the bad ones (not that there are any good ones). I do wish that once they have an anomaly, the testing could be done fast. I am lucky this time. From the first notification of anomaly to the final meeting with my doctor will be 1 week. That is highly unusual. Hopefully it will be definitive.


  8. We’ve got your back, Kate…with all the support you could possibly want and need. Take comfort in that…especially every time you wonder into and take those first steps toward that “not knowing” place.


  9. When I had a parotid gland tumor . . . I had to wait 3 months for the surgeon I wanted because he was changing hospitals. Due to the tumor’s proximity to the facial nerves, it could not be biopsied. Odds were in favor of it being a benign tumor, but . . .

    Anyway, I decided that if I had cancer, if I was going to die, that I was going to enjoy the time I had left without worrying about the future. It worked! Those 3 months were among the BEST months of my life. When people asked me how I could be so HAPPY with that uncertainty hanging over my head, I said, “If I’m going to die, I’m going to enjoy this time.”

    On the morning of surgery, I was chipper and happy despite the early-ness of the hour. With NO coffee on the horizon.

    The nurses frowned, pointing out the serious nature of the coming events. I laughed, “I know. It’s serious. I might die. All the more reason to enjoy the NOW.”

    “We are HERE and it is NOW . . . what else is there?”

    Stay positive. Imagine best case scenarios. Enjoy every moment you can.


  10. My comment seems to have disappeared. Mainly I tried to say how much I hate this terrible affliction and the fact that The Land of Denial is a real place so many of my dearest friends know. My fingers, toes and all my prayers are for you Kate, especially at 3AM.


  11. I absolutely HATE this horrible disease! And I hate it that you are awake at 3AM because of it and I hate it that the land of denial is a real place. I have not been diagnosed but I too am in the land of denial since so many of my dearest friends are there too. Fingers and toes crossed and every prayer for you.


  12. From your sister in all of this… Good luck today. You know me, I’m the eternal optomist! We’re both gonna be fine! Surgery is at 2:00 today. I’ll be praying for you while I’m under….


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