Thursday, 26 April 2012

Scanxiety II - Getting Back Into The Game

The other day, on the eve of going into hospital to get the results of my long-awaited scan, I watched a programme about cancer. This might suggest that when most of you are spreadeagled on the sofa watching a re-run of Britain's Got Talent, I am desperately channel surfing in search of anything I might have missed about the big C.  Well, it's true. I had missed the original programme, and buoyed by the glowing reviews which talked about the leaps and strides being made in cancer research, I decided to investigate further. And the programme wasn't bad. It was upbeat, and positive and showed patients who had originally felt they'd had no hope but to get their affairs in order being given new treatments that did indeed seem to be working. Selfishly speaking though, I was disappointed to find out that most of the developments they chose to herald as 'breakthough', like Cyberknife (high dose radiotherapy dished out by a sci-fi looking robotic arm), I had already partaken of.  I also had no idea that little 'ole me was at the forefront of cancer research and that the pink pills that I swallow so religiously each day are seen as on the cutting edge of cancer technology. Wow, who knew eh ? Next time, maybe I might even volunteer my own toxin filled body for the benefit of increased TV ratings...

But I digress. Despite the overly simplistic 'I was sick and now I'm cured' tone, the good thing about the programme was the attitude of the patients at the Marsden Hospital. Some looked so relaxed that you'd have thought they were waiting for cough mixture. Even though everyone talked about how nerve-racking it was to await scan results, most of them seem to accept their condition with grace. None of them looked like me. They didn't have the anxious, drained, paranoid expression that seems to accompany me before, during and after each Pet/CT scan. They didn't look as if they experienced the nightmare 'what if' scenarios that assemble in my mind in the early hours of the morn when most of you are still sleeping. Instead of making me feel inadequate, I felt inspired by their dignity and vowed that on the day when I arrived at the hospital to hear news of my fate, that I too would have the courage to keep my composure.

But hey, this is real life and this is me that we're talking about. Unfortunately, I don't do dignified. Unfortunately, I just don't have the patience. As soon as I saw one of my team of doctors appear after only 5 minutes of me waiting (why did she appear so quickly ?) after the very brief how do you do's, I began to cross-examine her. 'Had she received my results ? what were they like ?  why not ?' I have to admit that I barely gave the woman time to return to her consulting room before I began firing questions at her like a prosecutor in court. She actually had no idea and went off to investigate further. Returning with a piece of paper, we went through the results. As she read out the findings to me, I realised that she may as well have been speaking a foreign language. There were lots of references to uptakes and FDAs ??? and non-Fdas and suchlike. So much so, that by the end, I was no wiser. Had my cancer returned ? was there no change or had my body improved ? She told me that it was a good result. My own consultant had just confirmed this, she said. I guess I was expecting to see a piece of paper with just four words written in the middle:  'NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE'.

But, she reassured me that the scan was good. And while I sat outside waiting for a blood test, I was relieved to see my consultant walking down the corridor who also confirmed that the results were indeed good. There had been no significant changes, and as she was grinning from ear to ear while she said this which I can only take to interpret that to mean that it must be good news. So it seems as though  once again I live to fight another day. To be honest, I'm still not sure whether there is cancer in my body or not after reading those results, but if they're good enough for my doc, then they're good enough for me too. As I left the hospital, both smiling and shaken at the same time, I thought about a quote that I'd seen in a newspaper article about metastatic breast cancer. One woman described her primary diagnosis as a 'sprint' and her secondaries as a 'marathon'. But I disagree. To me, it's like hurdles. You jump over one, freestyle your way through life again and no sooner do things get back into rhythm, there's another hurdle waiting for you once more. But on that day - the day of my scan results, I made a toast to Life in all its weird, wonderful, worrisome, scary and surprising guises. I bought some red wine, coffee and teacakes to celebrate (bang goes my caffeine-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free diet again...) my leaping over another hurdle in my never-ending race to stay ahead of the game.


  1. Thank you for your honesty. Being dignified and keeping one's composure just might be over-rated anyway. Being true to your feelings, that's way better in my book. Glad the scan turned out alright. And I agree about the hurdles. Every time we make it over one is another chance to celebrate a small victory. The next hurdle will come along soon enough, but until it does...each day is to embrace and enjoy.

  2. Thanks for your comment Nancy. And yes, you're so right about embracing and enjoying the day. Sometimes it can feel a bit tricky with everything else that Life cares to throw our way, but I find that taking things one day at a time helps to really keep things in perspective ! Hope you're well and all the best, Cxx

  3. Only just come across your blogg but have to agree whole heartedly that having cancer is more like a hurdle race for life. Race against time, but constant my getting obstacles in your way and when you least expect them. Will be going back to read more of your posts, and hope that you continue to get good results. Karen xx

  4. Thanks Karen, and thanks for connecting. Am planning to update my blog soon as it's long overdue. I hope you keep on visiting ! Cx