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This Is What a Typical Day Waiting For Scan Results Feels Like

March 19th, 2018 |
Emotional Support

by Ashley-SH | Survivor: Bone Cancer    Connect


The day is clear and bright. A breeze comes in from the west. I sit on my porch and wait. Before this, I sat in my driveway. Before that, I sat in the parking lot of the imaging center.

Today is my scan day.

It’s been on the schedule for three months, since I last got word that I would have another three months of not-cancer.

So I wait today, phone in hand, trying to distract myself from thoughts that may push me over the edge and into a world of bittersweet memories and thoughts of life and death. I played Yahtzee in my car after getting my imaging done and flipped through a Coldwater Creek catalogue. I have no plans to buy anything from Coldwater Creek, I never do, but it distracts me. I pore over the whole thing.

I made no plans for the rest of the day (or the rest of the week), except to pick up my kids. I left emails and texts asking about brunch and playdates unanswered for all but my closest of friends. For everyone else, I will not be making plans until I know whether I get to have my next three months as not-cancer months.

The sweet breeze stirs again. I’m listening to the birds, trying to take it all in. Everything is so beautiful. It’s so amazing to be alive and here taking in this world. But I can’t think about this too much.

I was fortunate that my favorite CT tech was on duty today. He’s good with a needle. He asked me how I’ve been. I don’t reply, "good until now, but after this who knows." I say things have been good. We talk about county schools starting. I dropped my kids off before heading over to see him. It’s a big day. Why did I schedule it like this? First my kids, and then off to imaging. I thought this would be good because I couldn’t think so hard, with the anticipation, dread and fear that come with a scheduled scan.

That breeze rolls by. There’s a house next door under construction, but they aren’t hammering. Only two guys are out there this morning. It’s an exceptionally quiet construction day. I watch the crepe myrtle sway. The grass is so bright green. Has it always been this bright of a green?

The radiologist is taking a long time to call.

I’m lucky that the radiologist is willing to call me, he is very kind. I won’t have to wait the 24-48 hours that most of my peers in cancerhood must wait – from the radiologists writing up a report to their oncologists receiving it and then calling. He’s been looking at my scans for years now. When I was in-patient he introduced himself and came down to the ER to give me the word of a good lung scan after my lung surgery chest pains. He told me to let the tech give him a heads up whenever I am scanned. Three months ago he called me with good news, and I bawled like a baby.

But I can’t think about that right now...It presses down on my chest, and I can barely breathe. I should play some more Yahtzee, look at my Neko Atsume cats, and not cry for no reason yet. I know I will cry whatever he tells me whenever he calls. But I can keep myself together in limbo. I have practiced this. I play some more Yahtzee on my phone and watch my Twitter feed. Thank gods for my electronic distractions. I lay back in my chair and close my eyes.

My sleep has been disturbed and distressing all week. I woke up twice last night with disconcerting dreams. I wish I could cuddle my kids right now. We have such a happy family. I wish we lived outside the shadow of my cancer. Over dinner, Zora recently told me that she’s happy I survived. We’ve never used that term before. She picks up everything people say. Leah got in my lap and told me she was glad I was still their mom.

I can’t cry yet. I have to stop thinking about this. Cats. Facebook. Yahtzee. Twitter. Check all the emails. Muffled by the distance I can hear a lawnmower over on the next street. I watch a sizeable bumble bee zoom over the clover in my yard. USPS drives up and sets something in the mailbox. I should be better at being scanned and waiting.

Finally, a call!!

It’s some group that is collecting money for veterans. Sorry, can’t right now, get off the phone, don’t want to miss the important one. Deep breaths. I eat the leftovers from the last two nights, message with a friend on Facebook about her work, and continue to wait.

Time for more electronic cats.

What does scanxiety look like for you? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.


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Ashley-SH   

Ashley Shew had osteosarcoma. She works on issues relating to technology and disability at Virginia Tech as an assistant professor of Science and Technology in Society.


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