Those who have experienced cancer (or really any chronic illness) have a particular experience of waiting. Appointments and test results never come as quickly as one hopes. Last July 13 I had a regularly scheduled PET/CT scan. It was a routine follow-up from March when I had a clear result, my first since finishing radiation therapy in November for a recurrence of ovarian cancer in the center of my chest. I didn’t have to wait long for the results in July because I was scheduled to see my gynecologic oncologist in San Antonio the next day. Twice a year I travel to check in with Dr. Santillan who was only in El Paso for a few years, providentially when I was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer in February 2008.
On July 14 as I waited in the exam room for a little longer than usual, I typed a little note to myself on my cell phone. “These moments waiting alone in the exam room…test results pending…I wait, pray, wonder, hope, try to surrender to whatever comes next. Will everything change in the next half hour? My plans, my work, my energy, all possibly redirected? I wait and pray.” I must have had a premonition. At first Dr. Santillan said that there was nothing “really new” with the scan but reading over his shoulder (knowing exactly what the previous study had said) I pointed out two items of concern. The next days and months have been an exercise in wait-and-see.
All of my physicians have been extraordinary in their willingness and availability to communicate with me. But offices, insurance companies, hospitals and laboratories also have their own version of time. So decisions about options for diagnosis and treatment inevitably demand that we learn to wait. I knew that waking up from surgery, if the biopsy was successfully obtained I would know if the cancer had recurred. It has. Now I wait to see what the best chemotherapeutic treatment options are and how soon I can begin. More waiting will be in store with each scheduled chemo. Are the blood counts good enough to proceed?
I am not a patient person but will have to learn to find the gift in waiting. Thank you all for accompanying me on the journey.