I just completed my second eight week block of chemotherapy, which means PET scan time again. When this time comes, a weird psychological arc takes place beginning a few days before the scan, and extending until the day after.
I cope with my cancer by not acknowledging it until it's time for a scan. Before chemotherapy, I would have a bone scan every four months and a CT of my organs every six months. A couple of days before “scan day” – reality slaps me in the face and I begin the psychological roller coaster ride. My stomach begins churning.
Will I buy more time from the grim reaper, or will I find out that the cancer is back and my days are numbered?
When I get to the hospital, I try to soothe my nerves by repeating the mantra, "everything is going to be OK." Then while I'm alone in the machine, the tears come. It's like a pressure cooker building up steam and then finally blowing. I guess I cry for two reasons. One is the release of nerves and the other is that I'm in the machine and no one can see me.
Cancer is a heavy, heavy burden to carry on your shoulders. When I get home, I get into bed and usually stay there for 24 hours to recuperate from the emotional drain. The day after, I get up, get dressed, go to work and move through the day like a person without cancer, whose job it is to raise money for cancer research.
Am I weird or what?
Now that my four month window has been reduced to eight weeks, it’s making room for twice the anxiety. Fortunately, I have the results from this second PET scan and the news is good – I’m all clear for now.
So I'm getting out of bed now, getting dressed and moving on for eight more weeks.
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Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is co-founder of STAND UP TO CANCER and co-produced the TV show, which raised 100 million dollars for cancer research. Noreen went on to create the Noreen Fraser Foundation to raise money and awareness for women's cancer research. The 'Men for Women Now' program enlists men to ask the women they love to make appointments for their mammogram and pap smear. Noreen can be reached at email@example.com