Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Scans are scary...really scary.

It's funny how in some ways I can't wait for scan day, and in others I dread it like the plague.  I suppose it's because so far it's been nice to get that call from my oncologist's PA a few hours after my scan, and she's breathless and happy and so excited to tell me I'm still NED.  Of course, there is always the chance that melanoma has reared it's ugly head and there is something insidious growing inside me somewhere.  There's the dread part.

I have been fortunate enough to be NED for a year now.  Such a blessing!  I know...not a word anyone would normally hear me say, but that's a story for another day.  It's been a good year, in spite of dealing with the side effects of interferon.  I've lost 40 pounds and I look like myself again, except for an ever widening patch of grey hair.  Well, that and a few more wrinkles that I earned courtesy of the sun and tanning beds.  =(  But the best part is that relationships that are really, really important to me are closer than they've ever been.

So here I sit in nuclear medicine, having had my glucose level checked and IV started so I can be injected with radioactive isotopes, and now I wait.  I wait 45 minutes for this stuff to go through my body.  Wait...do you know about PET scans?  I'll tell you.  Apparently this radioactive sugar attaches itself to tumors, so this stuff going through my veins is currently in search of something to stick to.  Please God, don't let it find anything!  Then, it's off to the scan room where I'll be covered with a nice warm blanket, and they'll take pictures from head to toe.

"Scanxiety" as my fellow molemates and I call it, sucks.  For a few days before scans I can't sleep well, I don't eat much, and I'm cranky as hell (Jimmy can attest).  Whatever the outcome, I just want to get it over with.  Melanoma patients tend to live in 3-4 month increments of alternating happiness and fear.  When you hear that you're NED, it's like a new lease of life...for 3 months.  Because you know scan day is coming again in the not too distant future, and you'll go through it all over again.

So back to scary.  I sit here in the Quiet Room before the scan, and I think about my family and friends, and how much I love every single one of them, and how lucky I am to have their love and support.  Then icky thoughts creep into my head and remind me that I am a Stage 3 melanoma patient.  They call it "advanced" once you are Stage 3.  I hate that word, but I hate the word metastasis more.

So, do yourselves a favor and make sure you wear sunscreen every single day.  Sunny or cloudy; summer, spring, fall, and winter.  Otherwise, you may end up here in the Quiet Room too.

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