This week is scan week. It’s when I go into the hospital to get a CT scan that covers the distance from my shoulders down to my thighs. The scan will give the doctors the latest picture of what’s going on inside my body.
The first of these scans was on the 6th December 2014, which was a bit of a ‘bonus’. I went in that Saturday afternoon dreading two cameras being inserted into me; the endoscopy and colonoscopy, to find out what was causing the pain. Such a long time ago it feels. The laxatives I needed to take as preparation for that day seems to be removed from my memory banks.
When I met Dr. Rahman that day, I remember questioning what a cannula was and whether it would hurt. A cannula gets inserted into a vein, allowing blood to be taken or for medicine to be inserted. That was ‘me’ back then, scared of needles being poked into me. The ‘me’ that couldn’t be a first aider because I would feel dizzy at the site of a bleeding nose. I would soon have to get over my fear of needles.
Dr. Rahman leading on the camera work was unable to finish the procedure because of a ‘rather inflamed polyp’ in my colon. He ordered an emergency CT Scan, and left me that day with the words ‘it’s either Crohn’s or Cancer’. The CT scan would confirm which it was.
Five agonising days and nights followed. I can’t remember much apart from doing a little research on Crohn’s. Dr Rahman’s words kept echoing in the canvas of my mind, those words were on loop, along with the lyrics from Alphaville’s Forever Young; ‘Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst… …are you gonna drop the bomb or not.’
And yes the bomb dropped. I was destined for regular scans.
I went in on the 11th March 2015 for the next scan. This was after 3 gruelling months which included pre-operative chemotherapy. The tumour I had was deemed too big to operate on back in December. This scan would either reveal the tumour had shrunk or not. Something I didn’t anticipate was for a doctor to call me after I returned home from the scan to inform me that they found a blood clot in my lung, and I needed to go into A&E straight away.
I was in hospital for over a week and kept under observation, and prescribed 6 months worth of blood thinning injections. I was resigned to daily needles!
Whilst l was laying on the hospital bed, a doctor came around and gave me a huge moment of relief, of gratitude, of thank you, ‘the tumour had shrunk, considerably’ he said. I didn’t hear the ‘considerably’ bit, ‘shrunk’ was more than enough. I had the welcomed tears.
I was now to be handed over to the surgical team. Surgery happened a month later, with the surgeons confident they ‘took it all out’. I was to be put on another 3 months of chemo as a precaution.
All this took me to August for scan number 3. This time around the mood was upbeat. The doctor said ‘the worst is over’. And I had just returned to work on a part-time basis. The song on loop this time was Not Afraid by Eminem. Yes I was a little nervous. So when I eventually met the doctor in September for the results I wasn’t expecting him to say ‘it’s not good’. There was new cancer, this time in my lymph nodes. I was stumped, I didn’t know what to do or say. More chemo was in store.
Prior to scan number 4 in December 2015, one full year since the initial diagnosis, I was told by the doctor that chemo would be indefinite, it was a case of disease management. Disease management, words you don’t want to hear. I vowed no more chemo, regardless of the scan results. After 18 rounds of chemo, ‘no more’. The song this time was Fight Song by Rachel Platten (this song is amazing).
Before I went in to get the results, I spoke to my wise man Dr Kim (my integrated physician) and he asked me to do an exercise. I was centred, I was calm, I was prepared.
The doctor said; ‘Its not great news’. I remained balanced. He went on to repeat ‘Its not great news’, a further two times. I remained in my zone. The cancer had grown, and chemo was no longer an option. I got my wish of no more chemo. I was to be referred to a research institute for experimental treatment.
I had scan number 5 in January, just before the trial drug was to begin, to get a new baseline. The doctor this time said there is no growth.
And eight weeks later I am scheduled for scan number 6. I had two doctors meet with me last week, when Dr. One said ‘maybe we should think about what we do if the scan isn’t favourable’, Dr Two replied, ‘we will have to think, but lets stay positive for now’.
This time there is no song on loop, no words from doctors sounding to the drums in my ears. There are no nerves. I’ve done a lot of mind, body, soul work, to a point where I feel I am done with ‘doing’. I want to take my consciousness to a level of simply ‘being’.