The alarm sounded at 6AM and I sat up slowly in bed. Our CT scan was scheduled for 7:25. I showered and applied the lidocaine cream to my port longing for a cup cf creamy hot coffee. But not this morning. At least not until after the scan. I reached for two of the oblong orange chemo pills careful not to touch them, I swallowed hard as they traveled down my throat on a mission of destruction. Today we would determine if the drug was doing its’ job. We would know if it was working. We would learn if prayers were answered.
Tom dressed in his familiar purple Jude’s Dudes tee shirt and cream colored shorts. I found something light and comfortable knowing it would be a warm fall day. We continued with our familiar routine, fed the dog, checked the doors and left the house just as the sun was beginning to peak thru. We were silent in the car as we both wondered how the day would unfold. Would we return home with good news or bad news. It was always that same aching feeling inside.
Four years, six months, seven days we have lived with this cloud hovering overhead. Scans every three months were always the same. Some small pain would appear a few weeks approaching the date. Could it be the return of the beast? Well, this time was a bit different. We knew the beast had returned. Now we faced a different set of concerns. And they were more defining. They were more worrisome. What was happening deep within my body that would predict how the next three months would be spent.
Trips were planned, holidays were approaching. Our favorite time of year to gather to celebrate with our four children and their husbands and wives, and our eight and a half grand children…our extended family and friends. Would Tommy be making the flight and hotel reservations for our Thanksgiving trip? Would I be strong enough to enjoy all the plans? That question would be answered in a few short hours. But, for now, happiness swung in the balance.
We parked the car and walked toward the hospital hand in hand as we always do, entered and took the elevate to the second floor. The line was already long. It seemed lately the hospital was filled with more people then ever. We checked in and took a seat near the double doors. About half and hour later a nurse called my name and I left Tom and followed her thru the doors and back to a small treatment room. Her tray was prepared as I took a seat in the lounge chair marked ” Clean for use”. The nurse who recognized me was wide eyed and smiling as she shared how hard the weekend transition from Daylight savings time had been for her children.. everyone up far too early. She handed me a paper mask as she prepared to clean the area around my port with alcohol and unsealed the power port access needle. We continued to talk until she said , “OK take a deep breath.” I felt the needle puncture the port and tasted the saline solution as she flushed to make sure we had a good access. She placed a clear plastic shield over the port and taped the access tube in place. “There, you are all set.” Just like every time before. “You can return to the waiting room. Just drink these two glasses of contrast, the second glass to this line.” As she escorted me to the lobby.
I rejoined Tom and we sat looking at the people in the crowded room from the sickest to the healthiest. Some in wheelchairs, some coughing with tubes and oxygen tanks. Some speaking foreign languages….some looking perfectly healthy. But, you wonder…why are they here and knowing they were wondering the same thing about us.
About half an hour later a man called my name. I recognized his voice. He’s the one on the taped recording ….”Take a deep breath in …and hold it”. I had seen him before and he recognized me too. We made our way back thru the hallway to the room that held the large white circular tube that would determine my fate. He offered me a heated blanket as he instructed me to lay on the narrow bed that would slide into the tube. He hooked me up to the small tube that would inject the contrast at one point during the procedure. I raised my hands above my head as he looped the tiny tube around my fingers above my head. “Ah, you know the drill.” And before I knew it the machine was humming and I lay alone in the room with that machine.
The scan only takes about ten minutes thankfully. As soon as I was finished and unhooked I walked back toward Tommy. A large hot English Breakfast tea would soon be in my hands. We would eat breakfast before the test results and our meeting with our Radiology Oncologist at 10:25AM who would give us the answers we have been waiting for. Dr. Ko was the one who had been graphing the nodes since he found the first one in my lungs two years ago. The ones he swore were treatable early onset lung cancer.
We returned to the hospital and made our way to the first floor radiology department and checked in at the desk. We sat on the wall near the brass bell. The one the patients ring when they complete their final radiation treatment. The one I had rung four years ago. It wasn’t long before our friendly nurse Laurie escorted us back, took my vitals and asked me general questions, “Are you in pain, what is the level of pain one to ten.” etc.etc. “Dr. Ko is behind today, I apologize for the wait, but he’ll be with you soon.”
The first few minutes when he entered the room I was fearful. But, he held a paper in his hand with several notes he had made upon reviewing my scan. “it appears the node in your left lung has disappeared” The right lung nodes are stable with even the largest one reducing in size.” “No more new nodes.” My eyes began to tear up. “So, the chemo pills are working?” I asked. “Yes, they are doing just what we hoped they would do.”
I really didn’t hear much of the conversation he and Tommy had beyond that. My heart leaped with joy. I felt like the sunshine had just appeared and I felt light headed. It was better news than I had prayed for.
Was it the healing ministry prayers, my bible study prayer warriors, my family and friends who had texted me that morning. God had graced us once again with good news, with another three months of reprieve. Cancer wasn’t going to rain on our holidays this year. We said our thankful prayers to God as we sat alone together. “Lord, you continue to favor us with your grace. We give you the complete glory for this and we pray that others see this example and are filled with your Holy Spirit.
Yes, it is working.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27/NIV