Saturday, March 17, 2018

On PET Scans and Other Things

Last Monday I had a three month follow up exam with my oncologist to get the results of my PET scan; the purpose of the scan is to find out whether the chemo treatments had worked. My stomach had been in knots since I had the scan the Thursday before, and I am happy to report that my doc said that everything looks good. My first reaction was “Are you sure?” He said, “Yes,” to which I replied, “I love you.”

Before I left Parkview, I stopped by the infusion lab to tell some of the oncology nurses the good news. While I was glad to let them know, I was aware that there are a lot of patients in that infusion area who were not going to be getting good news any time soon, so I made a point of keeping my happiness restrained.

While some people think that cancer, especially Stage 4, is a death sentence, in many cases, cancer is considered to be a chronic disease. Whether or not it is chronic, a person with cancer is never out of the woods. The good news is that I now have a reprieve. I will go back for a check up in June and another PET scan later this summer, but for now, all is good.

Right now I am flooded by emotions that I am still trying to process. I dodged the bullet this time. No chemo--at least for now. I am hoping that my next PET scan will be positive as well, but I also am realistic enough to know that cancer can rear its ugly head any time it damn well wants to.

I thought that I would have been doing happy dances all week, but oddly enough, I haven't been. While I never made a plan to use stoicism as a strategy, my m.o. has been simply to put one foot in front of the other, to deal with whatever happened when it happened, and to try to not get ahead of myself by anticipating outcomes. Apparently, having the sword of Damocles hanging over my head for all of that time must have taken its toll because I have been exhausted all week. Last week’s drama with Max Quigley, the firefighters, EMS, and my Women of Grace speech did not help quash my exhaustion level.  (

So, what have I learned from my odyssey through cancer world?

The first thing that comes to mind is patience. I am not by nature a patient person, and cancer doesn’t give a care whether you are a Type A person or obsessive-compulsive or anal-retentive. Stuff is just going to happen when it happens, and I have gotten pretty good at learning how to hurry up and wait.

Another thing that I have learned is that the folks who work in oncology are incredibly smart and incredibly kind.

As a person who always has liked to get things done yesterday and who likes to do most things myself, I have found that as I have needed help, my friends and family have stepped up to the plate and have been incredibly supportive and caring. Having a friend and caregiver like Donna Roof has been a gift that I can never repay, especially since she puts up with me when I am not being very put-up-withable. I am also grateful for all of the former students who have shown up in my life. Whether they sent flowers or brought dinner or sent lovely cards and notes, I am extremely grateful.

Sadly, I no longer have an excuse to use the handicapped carts at the grocery store because I had a lot of fun zipping around Kroger. However, I may find it necessary to break a rule or two and zip around the grocery store for old time’s sake.  Who’s going to know? Better yet, who’s going to stop me?

Of all of the life lessons that I have learned is that I have been given a second chance. If there are places to go or things to do that are on my radar, then I will do them.

If there are people or things that I don’t want to deal with, then I won’t. Life is too short to deal with unnecessary and irrelevant stuff.

If there are things that need to be said to the people that I love, I will say them.

For those of you who have been following my cancer-schmantzer odyssey for the past year, I really appreciate all of your kind words and support. Thank you!


  1. Marcus Aurelius couldn’t have said it better. It?
    Life and how to live it.

    1. It's nice to be in the company of Marcus Aurelius.

  2. WIHOO and congratulations! Definitely answered prayer. I remember for the first at least 10 years after my cancer Schmeltzer situation, I had what I called the wibble wobbles whenever I had tests done to see where I stood. I would go back-and-forth between absolutely confident that they would find nothing and terrified that they would. So your feelings are absolutely normal, as I have talked with others who have the same wobble wobble experience. That happened only five years after Kent died. So I had two big lessons within five years, which opened my eyes and heart to the gift of each day. It has not stolen your joy. That’s the big winner right there. Remain joyful.

  3. Thank you, Jeanne. I appreciate your kind words and your empathy.