A man sits on a bench and looks over the hill towards a calm sunrise.

Don’t Fear the Bladder Cancer

I was reminded I have a CAT scan coming up in a few weeks. I am 8 years from my surgery and still need to get annual CAT scans. My doctor says I will do this for another two years before I go onto some other cadence.
(FYI – this is my experience; your mileage may vary. Your doctor is your guide.)

8 years.

Other than being with my wife I don’t think I have done anything for 8 years without quitting. Well – smoking. I quit the day I found out I had cancer!

But my point is, even though it has been 8 years of good results, those annual reminders still sit uncomfortably on my mind. I know my wife worries every year. She used to go with me for the scans but now it’s an old hat, so I go alone. Not that she doesn’t care - mind you, but she has learned the process is pretty simple and nothing new is revealed during the scan. Like most important things in life – it is the follow-up appointment that is critical. That is when you get the “news.” Knock on wood – always NED (no evidence of disease.)

I have written on my own blog about “scanxiety” and the uneasiness in your heart and mind between the scan and your appointment when you get the report from the scan. And that is very true. That span of time is very stressful. But as I enter my 8th year I’ve changed. I don’t fear bladder cancer.

For a variety of reasons

First, the longer I go without any reoccurrence, I’m statistically less likely to have it. Second, I have gotten used to the wait and the gap between scan and discussion with my doctor. Now if it goes too long I start to worry a bit. But I also heard that if they see something alarming they rush the appointment. This isn’t helpful because if I get a quick appointment after the scan, then I worry about that. You really can’t win. So... You have to go to the third reason I don’t worry anymore.

Keep on keeping on

I can not do squat about it. I am powerless to change fate. Shakespeare had a little something to say about that...

Thou think’st ‘tis much that this contentious storm
Invades us to the skin: so ‘tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix’d, The lesser is scarce felt...  
The body’s delicate: the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there...  
O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that. 1

The worry and the angst that scans create don’t help anything. Succumbing to the fear and the unknowable possibilities won’t help. In fact, as Bill says, that way madness lies.

Relax. Know you have already done what you can. Smile.

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