Saturday, April 13, 2013

6 Months Free and Clear

Yesterday I received a phone call from my grandma informing me that I needed to update my blog with the results of my scan for all my "fans." Sometimes I forget that there are people out there who rely on other means of communication besides Facebook (my grandma, ironically is on Facebook. My 31 year old brother, however, is not).

So for all my fans out there who don't follow my every Facebook move, you should get on Facebook.

Also, my 6 month scan is all clear!

Although I expected (and hoped with every ounce of my being) that the scan would be clean, it's only been 6 months and there's always that little bit of "what if" that creeps in. I don't have any lumps in my neck (my go to cancer symptom), but I have suffered some fatigue and a dry cough -- both of which accompanied my initial diagnosis.

Scanxiety is common in the cancer world. Almost as common as a recurrence it seems. Blogs I read, people I know, once they've been handed the dreaded "C" card, they have a tough time giving it back. Whether you like it or not, for most people, the cancer card is harder to get rid of than an overbearing mother (kidding, kidding).

Momma Bear would say to let go of the fear and choose love (actually, she did say that. You can read all about it here).

But me, I say embrace the fear.

The reality is, I'll never completely let go. I can ignore it. I can acknowledge it. I can accept it. But I can't let go.

So again, I say embrace it.

That fear - the fear of getting sick, the fear of dying - helps me make better decisions for my life.

The first time I got a clean scan, I let go of the fear. I tried to ignore what I had been through and went back to my old life, bad habits and all. And as you know, Little Hodge came back.

This time, I  use that fear as a motivator to eat better, stress less, and live more. I certainly still make mistakes, but it's the fear that gets me back on track.

Rather than feeling guilty for being anxious or afraid, I say embrace it. Because anyone whose been sick will tell you, that the scanxiety - or anxiety - will never disappear.

Even with a clean scan. Which I have.

also kidding. mostly.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Everyday I'm Hustlin'

Normally, I write long, thoughtful posts, telling you my dark inner feelings and all that mush. I try and be witty and smart and make you all laugh and cry within a single post. But it's early and I'm tired and I don't have much news other than the fact that today is my 6 month scan. Don't worry, despite my shortage of words this morning, I plan on rocking it.

(But just in case, cross your fingers for me).


Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 9

Today, is a bittersweet day for me.

I woke up to a calendar alert with the message "CANCER FREE" written in all caps and followed by an unnecessary amount of exclamation points.

A year ago I put this in my calendar as a recurring event (end date: Never.) - after receiving my first clean scan during treatments - as a reminder to celebrate the day I became cancer free (like I would actually need a reminder for this day…).

But as most of you know, that elation was short lived. Two months later, the cancer was back.

So now, today - on my first anniversary of being "cancer free" for the first time - is a day of mixed emotions. I'll always remember that day. Standing in the clinic alone (Momma Bear was on the phone in the car on, what felt like, the longest conversation of my life), I faced the nurses solo.

The one line summary of my scan: "No Evidence of Disease."

I'll always remember the excitement and relief I felt that day. After going through physical and emotional hell, I was strong enough to beat cancer.

For two months I was sure that was it. I temporarily lived free of fear as someone who had superhero powers. I honestly (and naively?) didn't think the cancer would come back. But as we know, the cancer did come back. And as someone who has now experienced relapse, I should have cherished those two worry-free months a little more. Because once you've experienced a recurrence, I don't know if you ever completely let go of the fear of the possibility that the cancer may return again.

So now today is a day that is supposed to be about joy and celebration but is instead a reminder of failure and pain. Little Hodgy stole this day, and my thunder, with a relapse.

But maybe a reminder of failure isn't a bad thing. It's a reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed. A reminder to cherish our good days. To live better and love harder. A reminder to celebrate our victories, even if they're short lived.

A reminder that in a world full of disappointment and fear, to let joy win.

So today, because of that reminder, I won't be bitter.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2012: It's Been Bitchin'

A couple months ago, in the midst of holiday madness, I made a very important decision.

I decided, with conviction and zeal, that 2013 is going to be my year.

I was tired of the cancer crap and everything that comes with it: the fatigue, the worry, the fear. So I made a decision. That next year, 2013, was going to be mine.

I was going to own it.

But before making 2013 my bitch, I had to get through my fist post-remission PET Scan since my recurrence last summer. It's hard to start the year off in warrior mode with a looming scan on the horizon. I tried not to fret too much about this one. After all, it's routine by now. I've done these scans so regularly for the last 14 months, it seems like my new norm.

But this scan is a big deal.

In the last year, I've been diagnosed and in remission, then diagnosed and again in remission. If the pattern were to hold true, it means it was time to be diagnosed again. The fact is, since first being told "you have cancer" I've never received two clean scans in a row.

And as much of a warrior as I pretend to be, that is a worrisome fact.

So yesterday, I went in for my first scan of the year. Trying to be more warrior than worrier, I took inspiration from one of cinema's greatest films: Cool Runnings. In an attempt to empower myself and spend more time wishing for the best rather than worrying about the worst, I took strength in repeatedly  replaying this scene in my head:

But even Cool Runnings can't completely get rid of the worry.

Luckily an email from my doctor can. Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of my fretting and only hours after my scan, my worrying was interrupted with this one line from my radiologist:

"PET scan is perfect!"


And while I'm sure the worrying won't be gone forever, last night I got a pass. I got a bonus night where I got to sleep free of the "what ifs" regarding today's appointment. Thank you, doc for rescuing me from the stress of the unknown for an extra 24 hours.

Must be because I am a bad-ass mother who don't take no crap from nobody. 2013, don't mess with me.

This year is mine.