Reprieve?

In the mail a few days ago came the report of the results from my recent MRI. Along with the mammogram, the MRI is one of the ways the medical folks keep an eye on me after my cancer treatment. I am more than 3 years past the day I received the breast cancer diagnosis, and 2-and-a-half years past the end of chemotherapy. That’s when the countdown, for me, to that critical 3- and then 5-year mark began.

The MRI may seem like overkill, especially with its added expense and the dogged determination of the medical community to promote mammograms. But it’s necessary for me because the mammogram tends to fail those of us who have dense breast tissue — a factor that is finally starting to show up on lists of risks for breast cancer. Besides the annual mammogram and MRI, I visit my oncologist every 6 months for blood tests and a review of my status. My last 6-month check-up, back in April, showed only some lingering whacked-out red blood cells.

At that time, I had developed a new pain in my right abdomen, one that had hung around for a few weeks, consequently triggering my internal alarm. The pain had passed the 2-week mark I had been coached to observe. And so I followed the oncologist’s suggestion to have an abdominal ultrasound, which fortunately, like the mammogram and MRI, showed nothing wrong. (Cancer, the “gift” that can keep on giving — you just don’t know when.)

Although my body seems to be recovering well, is actually intent on reclaiming its good health, I am still struggling with the mental, emotional,and spiritual recovery. My body has its own mind. The mind itself needs to catch up.

The nurse had already called me to report the MRI results, but that wasn’t enough. I needed to see the full report in print on the page in my hand.  And in that small space of silence after reading the results, when I let out the breath I had been  holding, a tiny thought crept in. A new and, for me, startling thought.

It just might be possible to be cured of this disease.

The body will know when that happens. The mind might never be sure.

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3 Responses to “Reprieve?”

  1. Beth L. Gainer Says:

    Hi Julie,
    I also had dense breasts, which obscured a malignant tumor on the mammogram. MRIs were then used for me. Like you say, it might be over physically, but mentally, not so much. I will say that I’ve had a lot of physical and emotional hurdles to overcome with my treatment. Just give your mind time to catch up and be patient with yourself.

  2. Sue Rickels Says:

    Hi Julie–all of this is great news. Maybe as Beth says, time will help the mental and emotional OMG triggers fade. However, this hypervigilance, annoying and upsetting as it is, serves a purpose. It keeps you on your toes to prevent or at least stop in their tracks those nasty cells that grow out of control. Perhaps, vigilance, not hypervigilance, will be where you land emotionally. The deadly statistics that you faced on day one should, however fade, but with the residual awareness that mortality is what faces us all–and in all of this you have grown in your work, your writing, your children, and the great appreciation that every day is a gift.
    I am grateful to hear this good news knowing that lurking behind it are the mental and emotional healing. I trust both will come. Have a great semester! XOXO–big cyberhug, Sue

  3. lat Says:

    what can anyone say? there are no guarantees in life. you can take good care of your health, do all the right annual checks with your doctors, but things will go wrong regardless. Why? because they can and no one can guarantee any different. Take the good news when it arrives and keep on going. Take the bad news, and you must find a way to keep on going; unfortunately, not so easy a thing to do. Best anyone can do is take each day as it comes and make the most of what you have to work with each day. This day, though, we celebrate with you on the good report. May there be reason enough to celebrate each tomorrow that follows.


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