Scanning the Horizon

ocean wave

Photo by Simon Clayton on

Okay, so my Brain MRI with and without contrast – possibly my 25th such scan – was postponed due to the intricate machine breaking down on Wednesday shortly before my “time.” Now, I have just about 45 minutes until I get back into that tube and listen to all of those crazy bonkings and reapeating bass guitar lines – bom bom bom bom bom! (You all who have had such scans know what I’m talking about.)

I wanted to quickly jot down some thoughts before going in, almost as an exercise in speed typing and speed thinking, and I also wanted to try to coalesce my real thoughts in real pressure-time about all of the what-if’s which tread through the patient’s head in the moments prior to an imaging study.

In my case, I am fighting a right parietal anaplastic oligdendroglioma going on four years now. This is, in itself, a wonderful reality as I was worried sick initially that I was in big big trouble. Now, as I scan the horizon of my life – and ours together – I see many scenarios — and some not so bad at all. What was once only a slight glimmer of a gleam of hope for a long and “normal” life now seems in the realm of possible. Another possibility is more in line with what I – and my family – deal with on a daily basis: fatigue, reactions to the many drugs that I have to take to contradict the possibility of seizures, etc. Also, every day – like for you, no doubt – is just a grind. Every trip to the store is a big deal – that’s a fifth of my energy for the day, check! And my addiction to skateboarding affords me 20 minutes of rolling in gravity’s free fall before another 2/5’s of the days energy is spent.

So, a second scenario, as I look out upon the what-if’s of the outcome of this scan, is the grand battle – me vs. Oligo duking it out one uppercut, three jabs, a roundhouse, etc. (you get the idea.)

And then there’s the grand terror which all of us cancer patients reluctantly face: recurrence. I sighed deeply just after typing recurrence. It just takes your joie d’vivre away. Excitement for blissful normalcy bubbles away.

So, what is one to do? When I ask my doc about what we’ll do if we have a recurrence, he steadfastly looks me square in the eye and says: “We’ll figure out what it is, where it is… and we’ll fight it.” Amen.