Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hard To Believe

I have been putting off writing this post until I told my family.

No, not bad news. The best news. Ever. On August 23––which also happens to by my youngest Son's birthday––I had an appointment with my ENT, Dr. Patty Lee. Dr. Lee is my last stop before my annual CT scan, with contrast. A procedure that messes up my body completely and one that I don't look forward to at all. And since it has now been five years since I was diagnosed with head & neck cancer, this was a biggie. Could the 5 year remission landmark be that close? What if they find something? Am I strong enough––physically and mentally––to handle cancer if it is there?

My appointment was at 7:30am. And since Teresa was in Los Angeles, I was going alone. I also was alone at the pathologist when I found out I had cancer––this was starting to feel somewhat familiar so of course my mind started moving like a computer operating system. Too much data, too many windows open, too much distracting me from just concentrating on asking the right questions and see what my future may hold beyond today. And of course, I waited. And waited and waited.

As I sat in the exam chair, I thought of the time five years ago, with Teresa and my Dad sitting in the two chairs to my right. This was the appointment to tell me what my options were for treatment. And some other stuff that is now a blur. I thought about what would I do if I had to get that CT scan. And then thought "what if I am alright?" Yeah, both a good and scary thought. Why scary? I had grown to depend on these people to help save my life. They are my support system. And Dr. Lee has always been a straight shooter with me––some don't like that but I want to know the truth, in plain English and what do I have to do to survive.

A knock on the door happens and in walks Dr. Lee. She has my chart and starts talking to me about my unexpected scan in March. "What happened, why did you get a scan?" I almost said, "what, it's not written down in that 10lb file of mine?" But it was early in the morning and I just said, "I wasn't feeling great and I wanted to be sure it wasn't something serious. It had been going on for 4-5 weeks." She looked in my throat for about 3-4 minutes. Checked my ear and asked about my hearing––one of the side effects of the radiation is I have some hearing loss in my right era. (And I think this is the first time I've publicly admitted that). She then looks over the chart again, with special attention to the scan results. "You don't have to see me anymore." What? "Everything looks great. You're taking great care of your mouth and teeth. You hopefully won't ever have to see me again." I'm still in a little bit of shock. I AM cancer FREE and have reached the 5 year remission mark.

I still can't believe it.