It is scary to think how bad my scanxiety became this time around. Two weeks before the scan, I felt like half of my normal self, plagued with nightmares and paralyzed with fear over the mysterious, seemingly familiar chest pains. Thoughts covered literally everything, from having to delay school yet again—or just quit altogether, to whether I could mentally endure more treatment.
Anxiety can lead to some dark thoughts, and while I tried to mask them, when my mom returned home the day after the pains started and I hadn’t yet told my parents, my mom asked to hold and look at my face. I wondered if her motherly instincts could sense that I was hiding something, something too horrible to reveal.
I prayed a lot. Silently. Not to any god, but to anyone who may have been listening to my pleading thoughts. I wanted to feel protected, and with every embrace or casual glance at a loved one, a prayer would come with it.
And then as the days passed and my pain subsided, my strength returned. Maybe it was nothing, I kept telling myself. Maybe it was my period. Maybe…
So when my parents sat with me while I drank that sweet barium tracer, which helps to “illuminate” my organs, I held onto that hope, that maybe, that chance that the pains were nothing and that my fears were unfounded. If my 30-day scans were clear, then my 90-day scans will be, too.
All clear, I repeated to myself over and over again, as I was lying down on the cold, hard table, being remotely scooted in and out of the “standing donut” machine.
Fifteen minutes later, my parents and I walked across the hospital to our next stop: the oncologist’s appointment with results. Inside the room, we waited for an agonizing hour, which we have come to expect for all appointments, but at the same time, with a PET/CT scan behind us, we wanted results, like, yesterday.
I don’t think “relieved” begins to describe what we all felt when the oncologist told us, “Everything’s good.” The news not only dissipated our built-up worries, but also allowed my parents to, well, start planning vacations.
This year alone has been nightmarish for all of us, with hardly any time for a real break to escape from it all. With my parents in their mid-50s, it isn’t fair that they have had to put so much time and effort into caring for me, when they deserve to retire ASAP, travel the world, and enjoy life.
So while I will be returning for checkups monthly and another PET/CT scan in December, our shackles are off for now. I will keep praying, but I also will go live my life. It’s a precious one.