Early this week I traveled to Denver for my April trial check-in and scans. In addition to the bimonthly PET-CT scan, I was scheduled for my semi-annual brain MRI to see if my lung cancer had spread to the brain. I had been having more headaches and neurological issues over the preceeding month, and I left for Denver apprehensive about what the scans might find.
I had my scans Monday April 22 (read a summary of my scan day), but had to wait for my Tuesday appointment with the oncologist to learn the results of the scan. While I kept busy Monday evening visiting with my nephew and his wife, and helping my son via phone with his geology assignment, my scanxiety hovered quietly in the background. However, it made its presence known by waking me several times during the night, and ensuring my eyes flew open Tuesday at 4 AM Denver time (3 AM by my body clock). I gave up on the idea of sleep around 7 AM and rose early to find this awaiting me.
My rental car was under three inches of powder snow, and white stuff was still falling. Denver’s had a snowstorm every time I’ve visited it for the past four months. I checked the local weather on my iPad. Although Denver is well-prepared to handle snow, the roads weren’t cleared yet, and the freeways were gridlocked by accidents.
I skipped breakfast and headed into the belated winter chill. After brushing snow from the windows and doors, I started the car, turned the heat and defroster to max, and connected the GPS to its traffic cable. The suggested route avoided freeways, offering side streets for the 22-mile trek.
On the 90-minute crawl to the University of Colorado Cancer Center, my mind wandered to what ifs: What if they did find a brain tumor? Then the light would change, and the demands of the drive would yank me back to the present. At the next back-up, my thoughts wandered again: What if my cancer has spread elsewhere? What if I have to leave the trial? What if I have to go elsewhere for the next trial?
It was indeed a long drive.
I arrived at UCCC with just enough time to grab a quick breakfast at the cafe and hustle up to my appointment. I was on time, but other patients delayed by the snowy streets created a 45-minute wait for the oncologist. I was shuffling back and forth between the lab results on my UCCC iPhone app and previous months’ lab results on my iPad when the doctor walked in.
His big smile said it all. “I’m so glad to be able to give good news.”
Both my scans were clean. I was still dancing with NED (No Evidence of Disease).
By the time I left the clinic, the streets were bare and dry, and the sun blazed bright. The snow had simply evaporated, along with all my fears. I plugged my phone into the car’s stereo and sang along with the Eagles all the way to my nephew’s house.
Even when mind storms make the road look bleak, there’s eventually sunshine to be found.
On the flight home the next day, I looked out the window into the unusually clear skies over Washington and saw the bright side of snow.
Yep, the scanxiety is cured.