For ten years I have never missed my dreaded CAT scan appointment. Four appointments a year for three years, then two appointments a year for two years and for the last five years, one appointment a year. That means I have not missed 21 appointments. And that is why I am a cancer survivor.
Unfortunately, last Thursday, I found out on my 21st appointment I will have to start the process again.
I had my CAT scan on the 4th floor. I then proceeded up the elevator with my husband to the 7th floor with finger’s crossed as I walked the long hallway, to my surgeon’s office… to hear my fate for the 21st time.
Possibly twenty minutes later the door opened into the examining room. I looked into my surgeon’s face. He smiled but something was wrong. You know what I mean darlings. We women, ‘get it.’
He sat down very close to me, this man who has known me for ten years and got to the point.
“You have a nodule in your other lung. It is small. There is a 50/50 chance it is malignant. It has to come out. I don’t think you will need any treatment other than surgery.”
I am relieved by his words. No death threat goes through my mind.
He continues, “I want you to have a PET Scan.”
Terror sets in. A PET Scan? That means he is looking to see if the Cancer, he thinks might not be cancer, has spread into other areas of my body.
I am beyond devastated. I picture the invasion of my body by a machine and a stranger, the radiologist. I want to throw-up! I am exhausted from the past ten years of the continuous dark cloud that never quite goes away.
I stoically leave the examining room and walk over to the desk.
“I would like to make the earliest appointment for a PET Scan.”
I am so saddened as I listen to her talking to Radiology. I recall leaving the office over the past ten years with a big smile and a heart filled with gratitude saying,“Take care. See you next year!”
As she waits for answers I can see she is sad. She knows me. She makes an appointment for the next morning at 8:30am.
As we leave my surgeon’s office my ultimate concierge takes my hand and tries to bring a smile to my face, saying tongue in cheek, “More Hermes bracelets!”
I don’t smile. I am deep in thought. I am terrified. I am sad. I am physically and emotionally very upset.
My ultimate concierge and I had dinner alone that evening to digest the situation. I say to my darling husband, “If I get through the PET Scan with a clean bill of health, I will ride my wave with true grit and gratitude. If I do not, I am going to MD Anderson in Texas because they are a cancer hospital and I want to live.” He agrees.
Early the next morning, on the way to the hospital, I am not in good shape. The invasion of my body is about to begin in one hour, 55 minutes, 50 minutes… that is all I can think about.
I get through the test. The nurses were great and hugged me as I left and wished me good luck.
At 3 p.m., the phone rings. It is my surgeon. My husband answers the phone and is listening. He is not giving me a high 5. He is very serious, “Yes, Yes, Ok, Yes, here tell my wife.”
“Your body is cancer free except for the small spot in your lung. Let’s get it out,” says the doctor.
“I am so grateful and I feel so blessed,” I respond.
I am not fearful. I am going to ride my wave back to perfect health. I am going to be just fine.
A message: Be proactive about your health
I am anything but a perfectionist. I forget more than I remember and it is not because I have a health issue. I am just so busy I am dizzy.
I am always running late. I am always racing. I get caught up in important projects from family to work. I test myself by biting off more than I can chew because I love doing it all. When I say all, darlings…I mean all! Therefore, I am always playing tag with the clock and when I am finally ready to leave for an appointment or a date… I should have left 7 minutes ago!
I forget my weekly manicures so Leila calls me the morning of. I take little time to shop for clothes or beauty products. I am the last one to the card game, lunch with friends or my walk with my two girlfriends who I love. My friends know I will eventually appear or phone back. I am not very late. If I was on Honolulu time, I would be early!
WHEN IT COMES TO MY HEALTH I AM ALWAYS ON TIME IN MAKING MY APPOINTMENTS.
I AM ALIVE TODAY BECAUSE I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PROACTIVE ABOUT MY HEALTH.
I will be the first to tell you I cannot stand to go to doctors. I am the opposite of a hypochondriac. I am afraid a doctor will find something and they have. Fortunately, early detection has saved my life on more than one occasion.
You, like I, are the mistress of your ship, your body.
MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENTS DARLINGS.
- Yearly skin check
- Dental and gum care
- Yearly physical
- Eye Exam… the window to that big world out there…yours for the taking with proactive health care.
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If you have something to say about your health, let’s talk! I want so much to hear your opinions and feelings. I also want you to speak up so that women our age remain visible. I think we have a responsibility to share our wisdom, don’t you? Share yours on being proactive about your health either in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.