Thursday, 11 April 2013

Another 3 Month Check-Up

Well, yesterday was another one of my 3 month check ups.  I was very eager to have this appointment.  I've been having some of the same symptoms as I had in November of 2011 when I was diagnosed with the lymphoma.  As I blogged the other day, I've been feeling anxious about them.  So I was anxious and looking forward to seeing my oncologist to discuss the symptoms with him. I was so anxious for the appointment that I woke up at 5 a.m. with the various fears running through my mind.  My morning was spent visiting on the phone with a really good friend.  This helped keep me grounded and laughing.  The visit also helped the morning pass quickly and kept me distracted from my fears.

I always take lots of reading material to help the time pass as I wait for my appointment at the Cancer Clinic.  Yesterday, my son dropped me off early so he could have our only vehicle.  I decided to enjoy a small lunch which I purchased at the little cafe near the entrance.  I was going to write down some of my concerns and questions on a piece of paper while I ate so that I wouldn't forget to mention anything of importance to the doctor.  As I sat down at a table with my bowl of soup and bottle of water, I met a nurse who worked in the chemotherapy lab.  Was it ever nice to see her!  I remember at my last treatment, the nurses had encouraged me to come back just to visit them.  I've not been able to bring myself to go into the chemo lab.  As I mentioned this to the nurse that I met yesterday, she commented that this is a very common phenomena.  Once she left, another friend of mine from my church choir came by and sat with me while she had her own lunch.  Other people from the Canadian Cancer Society also came by to say hello to me.  I truly felt like God was bringing people over to me to help keep me calm and distracted.  Before I knew it, it was almost time to head up to the registration area to check in for my appointment.

After checking in for the appointment, I always have blood taken so they can check my blood levels (white cells, red cells and platelets) as well as any other changes that are signals and warning signs that the cancer may be returning.  The blood work is always taken at least 45 minutes before the actual doctor's appointment.  Yesterday, I brought some reading that I've been wanting to read and haven't had time.  My mom's older cousin has been writing his memoirs and I have a copy of the early years of his lifetime.  I was thoroughly enjoying having the time to read in the waiting room of the Cancer Clinic.  As I read the memoirs, I could envision my great-uncle (this cousin's father), my grandfather and the old farm houses, barns and rugged terrain where all the family eked out successful livings on the various farms.  I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the inside of the farmhouse as it reminded me of my grandparent's farm house.  I loved that home!!  Before I knew it, my name was being called to come in for the appointment.  The memoirs and my own comforting memories helped keep me calm and I felt a warm glow within me.

Finally I met up with the doctor.  As always, he asked how I've been.  I described my symptoms that I've been dealing with and let him know that I had also caught the cold/flu virus that is circulating through the city at the moment.  He asked some other questions about other symptoms.  After answering him, he indicated he wanted to do a more thorough check up.  I had not had a check up like this since January 4, 2012 when I first met him at my first appointment before starting chemotherapy.  As he left the room so I could put on a gown, my heart started pounding and my stomach flipped over with fear.  The "what ifs" started in on me with a vengeance.  What if my cold and symptoms were really the lymphoma.  What if the doctor tells me "Yes, the lymphoma has relapsed and you need more treatment."  What would I tell my husband?  Then I stopped my thoughts and sternly told myself  "We will deal with whatever happens!  If I have to go through more chemotherapy, then we do that.  We will just meet whatever happens head on and deal with it."  Then I got into the gown and waited.  As I waited for the doctor to come back into the examination room, my heart continued to pound hard.  It seemed to shake my whole chest.

The doctor returned and checked me over.  At the end of the exam, he said "Well, I couldn't feel any lumps."  What a relief!!!  He's going to send me for a CT scan just to make sure that everything is still clear.  He believes it is.  I have to take hold of his experienced and educated opinion and hold on for dear life.  I really like my doctor.  He acknowledged that in the next few weeks I will have a bubble of fear hanging over me.  I most likely will have the CT scan in about 3 weeks time.  Then I will see my doctor again to go over the results.  He stressed again that he expects everything to be fine.  Regardless, I'm back to waiting.  Waiting for the CT scan appointment.  Waiting and trying to keep calm.

Just before I had started chemotherapy in 2012, a good friend had given me a box of note paper that says "Keep Calm and Carry On".  It was a constant reminder for me when I would start to get overwhelmed and scared during treatment.  Last night and again today, the note paper is on my coffee table and it was a comfort.  I will keep calm.  I will carry on.  Everything will be fine.

I'm going to enjoy a week with my daughter.  I'm going to make plans for my summer.  I'm going to make plans for my students and organize a year-end recital for them.  I'm going to continue to organize my Relay For Life team "Cathy Conquers Cancer".  I'm going to start to make a concerted effort to fundraise for the Relay For Life.  I'm going to walk in the Survivor's Lap.  I'm going to continue to try to live fully in each moment and enjoy the little things of each day.  I will continue to tell myself that the CT scan is just to confirm that everything is fine.

1 comment:

  1. I can only imagine the anxiety you feel with this, Cathy, and I know what that heart-pounding sensation is like. It feels as if your chest is going to burst open and your heart will just fly right out; that's how hard it's beating. I'm sorry that you are going through this, and I hope that the waiting period passes quickly, so you can get those good results from your doctor. If only the weather would get better and you could spend more time surrounded by the healing and soothing sounds, sights and smells of nature --- right in your own back yard. Your plan to keep busy, plan ahead and enjoy each moment will help you get through this.