Scanxiety.

I had my PET scan this morning.

For those unfamiliar with a PET scan, here is what happens:

I fast for 3 days of all carbohydrates and sugars. {It’s as awful as it sounds.} Then I go to the hospital, down into the basement where the Nuclear Medicine department is located. It’s as dark, serious and full of expensive equipment as it sounds. Then they start an IV and a radioactive tracer runs through it. Then I sit for an hour while my body processes the tracer. Wherever the tracer is metabolized the fastest in your body shows potential cancer. After the hour is up, I lay on a table with my arms over my head and pass through the scanner for about 15 minutes while it gathers all the pictures. Then they give you a bag of Chips-Ahoy cookies and send you on your way!

The scan itself is easy (as long as you can handle no sugar for 3 days, you’re not claustrophobic and you have good shoulder mobility!). The difficult part is in the waiting.

Thursday morning I meet with my oncologist to review the results of my scan. Those in the cancer community have a term for the 3 days between now and then – it’s call “scanxiety.”

The fear is palpable as Joe and I imagine sitting once again in the doctor’s office, her tense face saying it all. It has been so long since we have sat in the office and heard good news, that it honestly hasn’t been much of a consideration for us. We are hopeful and we remain positive, but neither of us had considered the possibility of good news.

That is, not until the other day.

I was driving the kids to my parent’s house last Thursday between stomach tests so they could have somewhere more enjoyable to hang out than the Hershey Endoscopy Center waiting room. As we drove I was asking them if they knew about my test and explained how cool it was that a camera was going to be able to look in my stomach. Next came the expected elementary questions – “Will we get to see it?” “Will it come out your butt?” “How bad will it hurt?”.

Then the question I wasn’t expecting: “Will this test tell us if you still have cancer?”

Owen and Myra were 2 and 3 when I was first diagnosed with cancer. They have understood so little about it. For them it has meant extra time with grandparents and friends, a mom with a bald head, new toys and ice cream at the hospital. They have been sheltered from most of the harsh realities. That has been partially on purpose and partially has just come with their age. All that to say, it is hard to know exactly how much they truly grasp about my health, so the question caught me off guard.

I explained that no, that test was called a PET scan and it was scheduled for Monday. I also explained that by Thursday we would know if there was still cancer.

Without skipping a beat, Myra piped up from the backseat and said “Mom! What if your cancer is all gone?!”

Immediately my eyes were brimming with tears. Her question made me realize that in my mind, that had never even been an option. Good news? No more cancer? No way.

I had just been sharing with a friend the day before that as much as I believe that God can heal me, I have stopped praying for my own healing. I haven’t lost hope, but I have begun to grow numb to the chance that it may happen. But the voice of my sweet 6-year-old in the backseat {who is only excited for me to not have cancer anymore so we can eat ice cream together} shook me awake to the possibility of healing.

Since then, I have been meditating on the story of the Israelites being led out of slavery in Egypt. God worked in incredible ways through two ordinary men to convince the powerful leader of a nation to release his entire workforce of slave labor. Miraculous, wouldn’t you say? Yet as soon as they came to their first obstacle – it was a big one with no foreseeable salvation – they panicked and wished death and slavery on themselves. But God provided. Again. This pattern went on for 40 years. Panic. Whining. Provision. Panic. Whining. Provision. Were their obstacles big? Yes. Were their problems real? Yes. Was God always with them and working for them through it all? Yes.

Even in the doctor’s office when my scan is lit up like a Christmas tree. Even when it’s been more treatment and then complications with treatment and treatment hasn’t worked. Even when it was another relapse and options are dwindling. Even then, God has been with me and God has provided for me.

Childcare.
Insurance.
Meals.
Gifts.
Prayers.
Cards.
Encouragement.
Community.
Rest.
Trips.
And every other small detail that has been easily overlooked in the sea of difficulty and weeds. God has been in it and working through it all.

So currently, my scanxiety is at a miraculous all-time low. I’m choosing gratitude this week. I’m choosing to remember the ways that God has provided – great and small. I’m choosing joy. I’m choosing hope for a “Red Sea” moment. And I’m replaying Myra’s sweet words over and over, “What if your cancer is gone?”

10 thoughts on “Scanxiety.

  1. I saw that joy in your eyes yesterday at Staples…the way you said “we will get the results on Thursday.” And, I took that joy with me when I spent time with a suffering friend…you passed it forward. Much love to you…

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  2. I pray that the sweet words of your daughter are the same that you hear from your doctor! Should that not be the case I would encourage you 2checkout graviola. I know people that have had amazing results from it! We will continue to lift you and your family in prayer.

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  3. Ashley,
    Just wanted to let you know what an amazing testament you are to all. I pray for Thursday’s visit to bring you awesome news. I pray for all waiting to hear from you after the appointment. I pray for the doctor that gives you the news. As a healthcare worker who is surrounded by patients undergoing treatment for this disease and a survivor, I have never met someone as strong and courageous and who praises in the storm as you have. My heart goes out to you❤️

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  4. Crashley, you are in our prayers often. Pur God is a God of miracles, and that’s what we are claiming. We love you. Tom and Becky

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  5. Ashley
    Thank you for your encouraging words! My heart was so touched and Blessed! My hubby & I will continue to pray for you & your family! May God continue to be Glorified in this journey as He uses you to touch others!
    Much Love
    Kathy Bailey

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