Thursday, September 13, 2012

Poor Pitiful Pearl's Post

After a three hour wait for the verdict, we learned that Jim didn’t pass the test. Another recurrence. More cancer. Additional radiation.

Pollyanna says, “At least it is treatable. We know what we are dealing with. He has always responded to treatment.”

Poor Pitiful Pearl says, “What next? When will the chemo stop working? How much more can he take? Woe is me."

In January of 2012 when Jim was told, after his third recurrence of lung cancer, that he was cancer free, I tried to believe that we were done, that the beast was conquered. Over the next eight months we basked in the glorious sunshine of remission unhampered by cancer’s dark cloud. I dared to hope that cancer was gone forever.

It was not to be. While we were enjoying the respite, the cancer cells were regrouping for another silent attack. Now I wonder if I was right when I wrote in Cancer Journey: “Once cancer is outside the organ of origin, a cure is not possible.” And if the doctors were right when they said in 2002: “This cancer is unpredictable and incurable. ”

I hesitate to express my doubts and fears because I don’t want to bring the wrath of God down upon me for failing to appreciate all He has done for us.

But here is the ugly truth: I am afraid; I am weary; I am discouraged.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Test Anxiety

November will mark ten years since we had the first of what would become a long string of anxiety provoking diagnostic tests. You might think that by now I am an expert in managing the stress surrounding these scans. You think wrong.

I have always been plagued by test anxiety, but careful preparation kept the nerves in check. Even now, with my school days long past, I awaken in a sweat from nightmares in which I neglected to study for some big exam—a scenario that never happened in real life. I was far too motivated by fear of failure to let that happen.

Now ACTs and SATs have been replaced by CATs and PETs. Unfortunately, studying does nothing to alleviate the anxiety preceding these tests. There is no way to prepare for this kind of test—and there is a lot more riding on the results.

Tomorrow we will walk the four blocks to the oncologist’s office for our two o’clock appointment. If we are lucky, the nurse will call us back to the inner sanctum by three. I’ll work on my crossword puzzle or read a book while listening for the doctor to approach the room. More than likely he will not yet have looked at the scans. I may hear him on the phone discussing results with the radiologist—usually bad news if it requires discussion. Finally, he enters the room. After two hours, or more accurately, two days of waiting, my stomach is upset. What will the verdict be? New Growth. It's back. We see something suspicious. Or those most welcome of words: All clear.

Will we pass the test? God only knows.