Today was my six month CT scan. You’d think I’d be used to such tests by now, but I always feel a queasy creep of anxiety stirred with a spoonful of fear about the “what-ifs.” Sure, I know better than to play the what-if game, but some days it’s easier said than done. I felt that “creep” this morning as I waited for the scan, and I’ll probably be a little bit agitated until we meet with my oncologist for the results. Inquiring minds want to know. Actually, the truth is that inquiring minds crave control. Cancer will teach you a few things about control–or the lack thereof.
A CT scan is no big deal really. Mine are always done with contrast dye, so I spend an hour and a half downing a Big Gulp size drink to help me light up better. It’s not unpleasant stuff, and the time goes fast. The folks at the UPMC imaging center are all helpful and kind, and they go the extra mile to answer questions and explain processes. Today the nuclear medicine tech even made me copies of all four scans I’ve had there, and because the CD I’d brought wasn’t big enough he burned them to two of CDs they use that also had the viewing software. Why would someone want copies of her computed tomography images, especially someone who isn’t trained in radiology?
As a visual learner, it simply gives me an odd sort of peace knowing that I can have this intimate look at my body as it works to live and thrive with Stage IV mets. It is an odd feeling knowing that some of your own cells are giving immortality their best shot while killing the host (me) in the process. You see, cancer cells don’t want to die, and they’ll do just about anything, including borrowing energy from healthy cells, in order to feed and grow and outwit apoptosis. The average adult human loses between 50 and 70 billion cells a day due to apoptosis. Cell death is supposed to happen in this circle of life, but cancer cells rebel. My apologies for the oversimplification of the process, but it strikes me as odd that these greedy cells want to defy death, even if it means killing everything else in the process.
We are not meant to be immortal, at least not housed in these amazing yet fragile bodies. We are not, no matter how much we think we are, in control of much that has to do with our lives. All of us–yes ALL–have an expiration date, but we are a death avoidant culture. We’ll go to great lengths and lots of expense to pretend that death isn’t really a thing, or at least that we have control over it. Until we don’t. Until someone we love dies too soon. Until we watch our beloved parents living our their last years, months, or days. Until we face the stark reality of death ourselves–perhaps in a serious car accident or through a terminal medical diagnosis.
So I will spend a few days waiting and wondering, and trying to not give too much energy to worry. What will be will be, and I really don’t want to borrow trouble from tomorrow. No matter the results of this scan, I will move forward trusting in healing and wholeness, savoring each precious day of life, and learning from my cohort of rogue cells. I still have a whole lot of living to do, and I am grateful for all of you who are journeying with me. Your cards, notes, calls, visits, and other tangible signs of support and solidarity help keep me strong.
Do me a favor, please. After you read this, go look at your body in the mirror. Most of us are overly judgy about what we see, but remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made–and dearly loved by the Creator of all that is. Thank your body for being the vessel that holds your soul and mind and for carrying you this far on the journey. Take care of you as best you can, and give thanks for the wonderful creation that the human body truly is–even those rogue cells we call cancer. We are, each one of us, a small miracle.
My thoughts while waiting aren’t all doom and gloom and cancer-related. In fact, I’m doing a lot of writing these days and trying to stay as healthy as I can. Yep, I’m still chugging those green smoothies! One of the joys of life recently is our new cat (and my new muse), Zoey. Here’s a cute cat picture for a happy ending!