Embracing Fear

Six months ago, the baseline CT scan I had to ensure there was no sign of tumours anywhere else in my body showed what the radiologist noted as an area of liquid in my left lower lung. The notation said they recommended a follow-up in six months.

Once you’ve had cancer, even though it’s been cut out of you and you’ve completed chemotherapy and radiation to kill any bits of it that might be left behind, there is a lingering seed of worry that I guess will be with me the rest of my life. It’s not something I think about every day, or even every week. But, that CT scan appointment reminder brought that seed front and centre.

My medical oncologist was annoyed by the comment to follow up as she said it wasn’t an unusual thing to find on a scan, especially since the scan was done during chemotherapy. I had not been overly thrilled to have to get a CT scan in the first place. CT scans are useful medical tools, but each one is the equivalent of about 150 X-rays, so they have a significant impact on the body. And now I had to have another – two in six months.

For the two weeks preceding the scan, I did my best to compartmentalize that niggling seed of doubt and not let it occupy too much of my thoughts. This CT scan requires an injection of dye. So on top of showing up for the scan, I also had to psych myself up for yet another needle infusion into my arm. You’d think I’d be used to it by now after chemotherapy and multiple blood draws, but you’d be wrong. I hate needles.

So, as I spent energy denying I was afraid of a) going for the scan and b) what the scan might find, I fairly quickly realized I should just embrace the fear. Talking about it out loud made it less scary. It was still a CT scan, and I still had to get another injection and there was still that infinitesimal possibility that something might show up – but now it was just one more thing I had to get through.

Embracing the fear allowed me to let it go. The best way out is through.

I got the good news this week that the scan was totally clear – no sign of metastasis (or anything else) anywhere. Exhale.

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