There is a term in the cancer world, scanxiety. It’s something that typically comes up around the time of a scan. Over the years it has lessened for me, but has not gone away. I was doing a little pleading with God on my latest scan. Things have been going so well with Afinitor, the new-ish drug targeted for us estrogen-positive breast cancer patients whose aromatase inhibitors have failed them. My previous scan showed it not only was holding things back; it was actually shrinking tumors. But I felt shell-shocked. My pattern has been that if something works for a few months, it stops working by the time the next scan came around.
Every ache and pain I interpreted as signs of tumor growth. I started thinking of my friend Pattie. We were diagnosed the same time, maybe I was next to die? All of these thoughts were rolling around in my mind, although I did my best to distract myself. As my therapist stated, I’m a “worst-case scenerio” person. What would happen if I anticipated the best? I wondered if there were others out there that can actually do this. Despite all my positive thinking and staying in the moment, scan time always kicks my ass.
So I went into my scan Monday morning finally surrendering to my fears. Whatever will be will be, I told myself. I would pick up my scans on Wednesday and then make a game plan if needed.
On Tuesday, I received a message from my oncologist’s nurse, Margaret. I NEVER receive a call from the office unless they’re returning mine. “We received your test results, Tami,” she stated. “They show continual improvement.”
I called Mike with tears in my eyes. I felt my shoulders finally relax. I’m always surprised to see how much stress I hold in and how quickly it can be released. Seven months, and it’s still shrinking my tumors! That means I have three or four glorious months before I’ll be scanned again! That means I’ll be on the same drug for almost a year by the next scan — a record! But what this ultimately means is the longer something is working, the longer I will live until the next best thing comes around. As my friend Suzanne Lindley, a long-time stage IV colon cancer and founder of Beat Liver Tumors, says, I can “hitchhike” to the next treatment.
I know it’s still important to do all the holistic things to take care of myself – a whole-foods diet, exercise, some supplements (although I don’t take the mass quantities I used to), and keeping stress to a minimum. I know living my life to the fullest and staying in gratitude are ways to tell cancer to suck it!
I finally went to see a primary care doctor to get a physical and found my already-high cholesterol is higher and that I need to address it. I remember going to an oncologist several years ago who said, “If you live long enough to have to worry about high cholesterol, you have a pretty good oncologist!” Well, he can suck it, too! I’m intending to get old and saggy with all the health challenges old people get! LOL! No better yet, I’m going to get old and fabulous with amazing health. That’s what I plan to do!