Relief, the Mirror of Anxiety

My cell phone rang last Friday morning. My phone doesn’t ring much, as I communicate with most people in my life via text or email. For a moment, I looked in shock at the 813 prefix, a million thoughts careening through my mind, knowing that the news I was about to hear would either rocket me over the moon or plummet me into the depths of despair. No tumour. Tumour.

Looking at my sweet, wild, funny baby girl, I couldn’t imagine that anything that dark could be growing in her little noggin. Fear has a funny way, though, of twisting even the most benign thought, and planting the seeds of doubt.

Her scan was clear. The doctor called me to let me know ahead of the weekend, so I wouldn’t have to go through an agonizing two days, waiting for the Monday afternoon call. I was shaking, heart pounding, grateful and tearful. As we hung up, he warned me that this report wasn’t the “final” report, which would be reviewed on Monday afternoon. So, if there was some “tiny dot,” they may not necessarily have been able to see it. He would call me Monday if something was found, but otherwise I wouldn’t hear from him.

With this reassuring news in hand, we celebrated Craig’s birthday on Friday with champagne in the park. I felt light and free, watching my two healthy children running in the playground.

Somewhere over the weekend though, I thought, What if?  The seed quickly spreads its roots. And so I spent the day yesterday with my shoulders up around my ears, slightly breathless, jumping at every sound, and eyeing my phone fearfully. Someone did call me in the early afternoon, and I thought my heart had stopped for a moment. It was a wrong number. Slowly the afternoon passed, and there were no calls, and today has passed, and there’ve been no calls. So I can conclude, conclusively, that the scan is clear and all is well.

My relief knows no bounds. Yet, I’m still finding it hard to settle back into our normal routines and feel okay again.

Going for Skye’s MRI was, in itself, a traumatic experience. We’d made the decision some weeks back to do a scan, and so had no control over the timing of the appointment. It was made for 11:30 am, an unfortunate time of day, as the patient has to fast in order to be sedated. So no food after midnight. No breast-milk after 7:30. No water or apple juice after 8:30. There is no possible way to explain this to a wee one. All they know is that you are depriving them, and this is not something that has ever happened before, so it’s all very mysterious and upsetting.

Skye cried inconsolably for half an hour before even leaving the house, because I wouldn’t allow her to nurse. We arrived at the hospital early, to try to keep her distracted with new, unfamiliar toys in the Play Park. Gavin was happy to stay there playing computer games for an hour and a half. Never did I imagine that Gav would be one of the siblings in the Play Park, waiting for his sister’s appointment to be finished.

She remained calm until we had to change her into a gown. At that point, she let us know that she was not having it. It took all the tricks up my sleeve and unlimited iPad access to calm her down.

Eventually, we were called in for her to be sedated. This sedation business is not familiar to us anymore. Gavin hasn’t been sedated for an MRI since he was three, so yeah, it’s been awhile. Needless to say, kids don’t like it. They don’t like the mask and they struggle to get away. Skye let out one long, droning, cry until she finally fell asleep.

It certainly wasn’t the best morning of my life, but we made it through, and she was drowsy and cheery in recovery. After eating platefuls of food, she was back to her normal, peppy self.

Now I need to get back to my normal, peppy self. There are great days and not-so-great days.

I’m not the only “cancer mum” who battles the daily rise and fall of anxiety. I think most of us do, in one form or another. We live with the constant fear that our child’s disease will return. Unfortunately, I’m now in a small, exclusive club of women who have not just one child’s cancer diagnosis to fret over, but two or more. Some of these amazing women I count among the members of my own family. Some of these women have had to mother two children through treatment at the same time. Some of them have lost a child.

So despite having been given the genetic lemons, so to speak, I consider myself fortunate. Fortunate to be mother to a survivor. Fortunate that no cells have gone haywire in my daughter’s beautiful brain. Fortunate that my brain continues to harbour no tumours, although my grey matter often doesn’t feel as spry as it used to.

I’m clearing my head of thoughts of MRIs. The next ones will be in December, most likely, at which point both my kids will have to be scanned, assuming that at my next meeting with genetics, they’ll recommend a protocol to follow.

For now, though, it’s still July. It’s awesomely hot here in Toronto and we’ve still got six weeks of summer to go. Fortunately.

IMG_3601 (1)

As always, thanks to all the brilliant people in our lives who took the time to send me a text, or drop a comment on Facebook or here on the blog. The love and support that flows towards us is priceless, and I truly have such awed gratitude for all of you wonderful people. Much love!

2 Responses to “Relief, the Mirror of Anxiety”

  1. Martin says:

    What a relief. We thought a lot about you throughout the last days. Martin & Family

  2. Gail says:

    Great news, Erica.

Leave a Reply