Saturday, May 14, 2016

Still Exhaling

Most don't know this (although I'm pretty sure the word has spread by now) that I had a scary month and a half due to some bad scan results. Mid March was annual scan time for me. There I was, approaching my 4th year since surgery and remission and I got a little ahead of myself and sent out a "4 Years" post about making it 4 years and being healthy and happy. HA! My results hadn't even come in yet!

Ay yi yi Amy, you know better! Never get ahead of yourself, that's when life likes to come in and pull the rug out from under you and remind you who is in charge!

Results were in and I got the call to come in to the office for the results - never good. But I have had that in the past. It's usually my lymph nodes that light up on the scan, which sends us in to a bit of a frenzy, but is later deemed to be due to my ongoing sinus infection from surgery, and all ends up being ok. So I was doing really well this time around and not letting my mind spin too far out of control. Plus, I had recently been sick, so I knew those nodes were coming back bad! This time was different though. It wasn't my lymph nodes at all, in fact, the initial reading went well. No signs of tumor recurrence and no mention of my lymph nodes, but then there was the dreaded long pause. As if the doctor didn't really know how to say what came next. FUUUUUUUUUCK was all that was going through my head. A spot had lit up in my throat. My throat? That really threw me. This was new territory and it was not at all what I was expecting (as if it ever is). He said he didn't like what he was seeing, that it didn't look good, but that we would run more tests to correlate what these were showing. Fuck fuck fuck all the way home. And just like that, I was back at the beginning.

You have to understand, confirmed or not, being someone in remission and bad scan results being your greatest fear realized, back at the beginning is exactly where you go in your head. Straight to the starting line of another cancer nightmare. I'm tearing up just writing this. It's crushing, deflating, numbing, and fucking infuriating all at the same time (plus 10,000 other emotions). To be perfectly honest, the biggest thing I felt was betrayal. By who, I don't know... the universe maybe? This couldn't be happening again. After everything I had gone through, after learning some tough life lessons the hard way, really taking the shit situation and growing from it - and boy were there some growing pains! I mean, this could not be happening again, damnit!!

Then I broke the cardinal rule and started Googling the key words that kept popping up in my scan report - "hypermetabolic activity" being the main one. Never ever Google, people! But I did, and it confirmed what my gut instinct was telling me about what my doctor wasn't telling me. And then my mom Googled it and saw the same thing. And then my best friend Googled and she tried to play it off, but she too read the same thing. It was pretty cut and dry. Hypermetabloic activity usually means cancer when you're a former cancer patient. Taking a queue from The Hunger Games, the odds were not in my favor.

The waiting game commenced, along with keeping my head game in check. During these times, keeping your head in the right frame of mind is pretty much the entire battle, at least in my experience/opinion. It's an every second of the day battle. All your day is is waiting. Waiting for insurance approval. Waiting for your doctor's office to call. Waiting to schedule the scan. Waiting for the scan date to come. Waiting for results. Waiting, waiting, waiting. It is fucking torture, I promise. It's so hard to keep your mind in check, but it's the only thing you have control over.

A month and a half of positive scans. A month and a half of waiting in limbo. A month and a half of not being able to take a full breath because a giant gorilla named cancer was sitting on my chest. It all came down to this last appointment, one last test to confirm my greatest fear coming true. I called it judgement day. Mentally, I was going into it... I wouldn't say assuming the worst, but prepared for the worst. For self preservation,  you almost have to go there. I was a ball of nerves and felt like I was going to puke. My mom was already crying in the car on the way there. Judgement Day.

Without really being able to explain it themselves, doctors gave me the all clear. I was ecstatic and still felt like puking. One big Holy Shit moment where I actually got to exhale at the end of it. Other than getting the "these things happen" explanation from my doc, there wasn't much else to it. Maybe it was the monstrous infections I had in between all these scans that were either lingering or brewing? Who knows? I have learned that this cancer thing is one big educated guessing game, they thankfully guessed wrong this time. There was nothing to second guess with the final scan results and what they had to say because there was simply nothing there. No spots, no bad cells, no questionable areas...nothing. Add it to the list of "what the fuck" moments I've endured over the last 4 years, but I will gladly take it.

I'm still exhaling. And boy did I cry. I think I cried more that day than in the entire 4 years since this all began. I may have even cried more than my mom that day...maybe ;)

I am beyond relieved, beyond grateful, beyond happy and ecstatic. But to be totally honest, I am beyond exhausted too. I feel like I'm suffering from a hangover from the amazing news I got. I still feel wound a little tight and still sort of decompressing. That was terrifying, and yes it ended with good news, but it was still terrifying. Your mind and body go into survival mode for the sole reason of, it has to. Now here I am trying to turn that off and it's like my mind and body are hesitant to let their guard down. Is it safe, are you sure? They tell me it is. Can I trust it? They've gotten it wrong before. I've learned that it's in this space of healing where we have the opportunity to expand. It sucks and is beautiful all at the same time.

Not a day goes by without cancer crossing my mind. It's a life changer, that's for sure, and it's one that stays with you forever whether you like it or not - so it's best you like it. Or at least accept it. This was just one big reminder that I am beyond lucky, beyond blessed, and holy shit I am thankful.

Be thankful. Everyday. Life can flip your world upside down in the blink of an eye.