I’ve mentioned that pre-scan anxiety, the blend of hope and fear. There’s also, I’ve discovered, a post-scan funk. I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe it and how to allow myself to work through it without guilt. Maybe writing about it will help…
Having a clear scan is great – it’s like being given permission to live your life fully for another 8-12 weeks. Everyone is relieved and congratulates us on the good news. We all breathe again. We celebrate with champagne. It IS good news, after all.
But somehow, I find myself wanting to remind people that it’s good news FOR NOW. That it can all change in a heartbeat. That I’m still fighting Stage 4 cancer. That I had the most aggressive brain tumor known and while there’s no sign of it now, it could reappear at any point – jumping through that damn door yelling ‘Surprise! I’m back!’ Those words my neurosurgeon said, ‘Now we know HOW you’re going to die, we just don’t know WHEN’ stream through my thoughts daily. The chances of this tumor coming back are high and while we’re fighting it with a full arsenal, that reality is always there.
I know I should relish the good news and live life fully in those 12 week intervals. I know I should think positively and assume I’m ‘cured’ until I hear otherwise, but it’s hard. Maybe it’s because I’m a planner and I’m struggling with the varying degrees of uncertainty in our lives. Maybe 12 weeks isn’t enough time for me to fully enjoy the planning. Maybe it’s because I’ve left my career behind and am still trying to adjust to the idea of being a stay-at-home mom (even though I’ve been doing it for a year). I need to contribute and feel productive, but I just don’t know how yet. I still want to do it all, even though I understand that I can’t. It’s sometimes easy to forget my new limitations until they present themselves with a slap in the face. I know I’ll figure it out, but not having the answer now adds to the funk.
My treatment schedule makes it hard to plan anything too far ahead – I can’t get beyond 2 weeks, let alone 12. I’ve got vaccine appointments, visits to the vampires, appointments with my neuro-oncologist, rounds of chemo, recovery from rounds of chemo… Finding time to plan a family trip for more than a couple of days is tricky when we don’t know how my platelets will respond to and recover from the chemo – which would throw the whole schedule off yet again. So maybe the reality is that 12 weeks to fully live my life doesn’t really exist.
The worrying me, the ‘what-if’ me, the compulsive planning me comes out after a scan. Even a good scan. I’ve given myself a week to wallow in it and to work through it – I’ll keep working out the guilt free piece. It’s now time to carry on living, even if it’s only 2 weeks, or even one day, at a time.
“Make every day count… Even when you think it’s the worst day of your life; for you never know when it’ll be your last.” – Solange Nicole
“Every instant of our lives is essentially irreplaceable: you must know this in order to concentrate on life.” – André Glide