YES!!

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It’s good news.  My scans are clear.  MY. SCANS. ARE. CLEAR!!!I don’t get to say “the cancer is gone,” or “I’m cancer free,” for another 5 years.  But there are no signs of cancer in my body right now.  And the big fat t2 tumor is GONE.We found out yesterday.  Somehow both Mike and I didn’t set a 5am alarm (I’m sure we were both thinking that our 5 month old child who still wakes up every 2 hours throughout the night would wake us…YES) and we woke up “Home Alone style” when Mike’s mom walked into the house at 6am to watch Sam.  Quick shower and we were off into the everyday, mundane traffic on one of the biggest, most memorable days of my life.I had a CT Scan done of both my neck and my chest.  I knew they would be looking at my lungs again but hadn’t shared it with many people because I didn’t want to add to the worry bin.  When I was hospitalized in January, they had found an “irregular pattern on my lungs” that no one could figure out.  The lung scans came back.  While they still don’t look “normal,” they look “a lot better,” and both myself and my Oncologist are satisfied with the progress.  After I was injected with the dye for the CT Scan, I got to kill my kidneys a little more and be injected with the glucose and whatever else they mix in that machine for my PET Scan.  It was the same process and test that I had back in October to show WHERE the cancer was in my body.  I was led to a little room, given the glucose shot (all through IV) and then left alone for 45 minutes.  Mike didn’t get to come with me and I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone.  The goal is to quiet my vocal chords and any activity so that the cancer can gobble up the sugar first (cancer LOVES sugar) and light up on the test screen.  After the 45 minutes were up, I was led to another room, strapped down to a table and 28 minutes after laying perfectly still while the machine whirled above me taking its magical pictures, I was done.We went up to the 11th floor (Head and Neck Cancers) and waited.  When Dr. Chau, my lead Oncologist said, “your tests look clear,” I was stone faced.  I was stone faced through the whole thing.  I had pictured this day going both ways so many times.  I had pictured myself crying in both joy and in grief.  But there I was- blank stare and tight lipped.  I wanted her to say it was gone and she wouldn’t.  I wanted her to say, “you are cancer free!” and she didn’t.  It was still fantastic, beyond exciting news but I guess I didn’t realize how long of a road I have ahead of me.  But that’s just life, isn’t it? Trying to be your best, live fully every day with no guarantees?  She said they would see me every 2 months for the first year.  She said I needed to see a dermatologist every 6 months.  And we had talked about this many times before, but when she said, “let’s set you up with the genetics department because you’re really young and you had TWO CANCERS in one year,” it made everything seem more real.  Like I had just been playing the cancer patient role this entire time.  Like I had to just do it, get through it, go through the motions, be strong, be brave, go.  Suddenly it hit me, “Jaime, you had cancer” and no worry or action plan… just quiet, hear-a-pin-drop kind of stillness as it sunk in.  I had cancer.My Surgeon, Dr. Thomas came in and scoped my throat.  As always, he uses the lovely 18 inch long camera and puts it up my nose and then slides it down my throat.  With steady breath, I closed my eyes and listened to his words, “there’s nothing here except scarring and a lot of inflammation.”  Yes, yes, yes!  Since the camera is hooked up to a screen in the room, Mike got to see the whole thing (he saw the tumor when they scoped me on my first day at Dana Farber 5 months ago).  As soon as my doctors walked out, I bombarded him with questions; what did it look like, how is it different from before, what color was the scarring, can you really see the swelling?  It was the happiest I had seen him all day.  He said, “Jaime, it’s clear, there was no tumor where it once was, the tumor was red and looked as big as a fingerprint and it’s literally gone, the scarring is white and it’s everywhere and yes, everything looked puffy.”  Ok, ok, ok.I’ve basically got lymphedema in my neck.  It’s so swollen.  When I look in the mirror, all I can see is Austin Powers in a fat suit singing about wanting his baby back ribs.  I’ll be going to a physical therapist who basically massages the area to give my lymphatic system a nudge.  The thought of anyone touching my neck sends shivers down my spine.  It’s so sensitive, it’s so raw, but I know it’s time.And so what now with my life, my work and this blog?  I get to live today knowing that the scans are clear.  Spring is coming and Summer follows Spring and we all know Summer is the best.  My favorite part of being on vacation was that Sam got to wear just a diaper when he was in our room.  I could snuggle on his bare flesh whenever I wanted to.  I didn’t have to wear shoes and could have bare legs in shorts.  I’m looking forward to not wearing shoes.  I’m going to go back to Cala’s and start teaching yoga again in early April.  I can’t wait.  And I’m going to keep writing because I fucking love it.  I don’t know what I’ll keep writing about, but my life’s mantra and what I preach to my yoga students is, “don’t be boring.”  I literally say that in class because I believe it.  Being boring is the worst.I read one page of my Ann Lamott book while on vacation.  And this sentence was all I needed.  “What people somehow (inadvertently I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here- and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.”