Approaching the Final Scan
The scan, the scope, the test, the X-ray. Each and every one of us on our bladder cancer journey has waited for a test or investigation of some sort. Each and every one of us have waited for the results of said test or investigation.
It may be carried out to confirm a diagnosis. It may be carried out to stage your cancer. It may be carried out to check the impact of treatment on your cancer. Or it may be carried out at a defined interval to confirm if the cancer has not returned. This is the scan I am focusing on today.
Identifying what I can and can't control
Early on in my bladder cancer journey, I found the strength from somewhere to focus. To focus on what I could and couldn't control.
Unfortunately, there were many things I couldn't control but some things I could. I quickly realized that my check-up scans to confirm the cancer hadn't returned were in the "can't control" camp. Once I got on board with that, I found it much easier to deal with these scans.
I accepted I couldn't change the result of the scan; the scan results were, in fact, already written. From this point, going for the scan itself was easier.
The scanxiety is real
I am very claustrophobic, so even a CT scan for me brings a certain level of angst, but I stopped worrying about the results themselves. Equally, as the result day approaches, I have a bit of a twinge in my stomach. At that point, I didn't worry about the results, but I secretly hoped the scan would be clear.
December this year will be my final, now annual scan. The 5-year mark. My doctor had previously informed me of the significance of the 5-year mark. He advised me if I reached this point and the cancer had not returned, there was a very good chance the cancer would not return.
On one hand, I take this to be a great milestone and one I feel fortunate to have reached. I never take where I am for granted. In fact, just today, I was told of the passing of a friend. It did come as quite a shock as we had spoken only a week before.
On the other hand, I would be lying to say it doesn't worry me a little. I don't look forward to the scans, who does? But, in a way, they are a safety blanket. They give you that reassurance that everything is okay or indeed pick up any evidence of an abnormality or recurrence which may need attention.
The thought of that safety blanket being taken away is a little scary.
Reflecting and approaching my final scan
I must try and put a little bit of perspective into the situation. In my case, my massively invasive total pelvic exenteration surgery was done with the intention to cure and not just treat my cancer. I must remember that. Of course, it doesn't come with any guarantees but for sure it needs to come into my equation for weighing things up.
Secondly, I trust my medical team explicitly. In fact, I trusted them with my life, literally. While the main consultant at my operation was a colorectal doctor and no longer my key doctor, he still gets all my scan results. If my whole medical team, with their skill and knowledge, believes I don't need more scans, I should take this as a good sign.
Lastly, I listen to my body now more than ever before. I am far better informed than I was before this journey. If something doesn’t feel right, I will be quick to reach out and get things checked.
So, for now, I will get on with living my life and trust the next steps are the right ones for me.
Do friends and family ask about your bladder cancer?