Scan Day

Scans are one thing, but waiting for the results of one is an entirely different beast. Today is one of those days. J headed out at 7:15 this morning for his quarterly CT scan. I said a bleary-eyed good-bye, then called him back in the room (yes, I was still in bed!) to look him in the eyes, give him a little peck on the cheek and wish him good luck on his scan. Not that I think luck has anything much to do with it, really, but you have to say something, don’t you, when your husband is off to be scanned?

So if it’s not luck, then, what is it? What is it that makes cancer take hold in a person’s body? And what makes it–or keeps it–from coming back? Genetics? Diet? Exercise? Toxic exposure? Alternative therapies? Meditation? Breathing? Prayer? If you know me, and maybe you do by now, you know what I’m going to say. I’m gonna’ go with:  “All of the above.” But which one, in your or your loved one’s particular case, is the main culprit or could offer the best chance for a complete cure? Chances are, you won’t ever know for sure which approach holds the key to preventing or beating your cancer. So I just go with my “Both” theory, or in this case what could be called the “All” Theory, along with my “Do no harm” approach to things, and say let’s just do everything we can to move the odds in our favor as much as possible, without doing harm.

I can just hear the chemo naysayers giving me grief for this one. I hear ya’! Chemo is a B*tch and I will be the first to say (for J) that the side effects are real. They can definitely do harm. As I said in my To Chemo or Not to Chemo post, this is a difficult and very personal decision. In our case, we opted for chemo based on a variety of factors, including family history, original symptoms (how it manifested itself), staging (3B), specific type of cancer (small bowel/ileum), statistical outlook, our oncologist’s advice, and more. We weighed the pros and the cons and decided it was worth having toxins pumped into J’s body to increase his odds of survival. I say “we”, but ultimately it was his decision to go through with it. My job was to help him get through chemo with the fewest possible side effects and allow the chemo to do its job–attacking those cranky and stubborn cancerous cells. And my job now is to help keep him on track so that his healthy cells stay healthy, his immune system stays strong, and his cancer stays at bay. So for us, we chose the hybrid approach–conventional surgery and chemo coupled with complementary therapies, a clean diet and a variety of nutritional supplements.

Just imagine J kneeling at prayer, breathing deeply while stretching out to reach an organic fresh-pressed juice, then running off for a quick jog to the infrared sauna followed by a massage and acupuncture session, and 32 more ounces of reverse osmosis water! All while breathing deeply, of course! That’s just a quick snapshot of what an afternoon in the life of J might look like!

Back to today. Living with cancer means living with uncertainty, and when you’re waiting for the results of a test or scan, you have to live with a little more uncertainty than usual. Today my mind has been on overdrive, wandering and worrying, and preemptively blaming myself if the scan reveals something irregular. Why haven’t I been rubbing frankincense on his feet lately? Why haven’t we been making as many fresh salads as before? Has J been drinking enough green juice? What about water? Has he been filling his jug up with tap water instead of reverse osmosis? Is he putting greens, fiber, wheatgrass, ground flax seed and the whole organic kitchen sink in his smoothies? Should I have told him not to drink champagne last night on his birthday? And the worst–why did I get so impatient with him the other day? I should have been gentler. And on and on…

The wait for test results from scans, bloodwork or other tests, refocuses the spotlight on cancer whether we want it to or not. I mean, it’s always there in the back of my mind, but on scan days up until we get the results, cancer and the very real reminder of our mortality, repositions itself at the forefront of my brain and overshadows my thoughts. What if…? reasserts itself as a common refrain in my inner dialogue. What if this life–this beautiful, full and flawed life we live–must face its end? And then I hug my children and husband tight and count my blessings.

Oh, and I pet my dog, too. Petting a dog or cat is a healthy way to release anxiety and to feel loved. (see photo) Isn’t he cute? Here are some good articles that talk about how pets help us relieve stress!

Why Petting your Dog is the Best Form of Stress Release

8 Ways Your Pet Can Help Relieve Your Stress

5 Ways Pets Can Ease Your Stress


(Here are J, his mom, our youngest child, and our beloved pet–an enthusiastic and cuddly cockapoo. Notice the handknit prayer blanket, too, lovingly crafted by a group of women at our church.)

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