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.”
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