During my last two walks, I’ve been keenly aware off my gait. I have attended to my footfalls, the way some of my flesh moves a bit from the impact of each step and how I can feel the strength of my muscles in my stride. My legs are curvy, solid, and strong. They support my weight and take me places, through noisy streets and peaceful ones, through rain and wind and through the delicious sunlight that cracks through the clouds during the fall.

I have been meditating on my steps. Since I began recording my walks at the beginning of December 2012, I have walked over 2500 miles, through seemingly endless medical appointments, seemingly endless reconstructive surgeries, through work and family life, navigating an ever changing life with a map that at times seemed etched with the lightest pencil marks. One of the unexpected gifts of writing this blog is that I am able to go back and see that despite the fits and starts and lack of linear progress, I am growing and changing, in mostly positive ways. I am moving forward on strong limbs.

The last week of September was Double-Scan Week. I had a diagnostic mammogram to follow-up on the “probably not cancerous” mass that was discussed six months ago at my routine screening. Dr. Bang informed me that it was 2mm and that it had been visible on previous mammograms. On the Friday of the week, I had my annual MRI. Typically I have one scan every six months, either an MRI or a mammogram, but not both. I could have spaced them out a little but then I figured I’d just drag on the stress of waiting.

The mammogram was a breeze. One of the things I love about my cancer center is that they always provide results during my visit when  I have a diagnostic mammogram. The radiologist was pleased that the mass had not changed shape or size and that it still had the appearance of a benign cyst. I go back in 6 months for follow up, a typical course of action for monitoring. The MRI was a bit trickier. For some reason, the imaging lab that I usually go to has closed abruptly and all services had to be moved to another imaging lab, nearby. They were very nice and for extra credit, their MRI machine was shiny new. I asked them how long it would take to get results and the tech told me that my oncologist would receive results that very day.

Saturday was a very nice day and I woke up Sunday in a very good mood. My husband and I took a ride to the mountains. Then it happened, the upsurge in anxiety that seems to come out of no where. My heart started beating fast and I was having trouble concentrating. “What’s happening to me? Oh yeah. Double Scan Week.” I told my husband what was happening. Unfortunately, he was not having a good day and was not as supportive as I wanted him to be. I find more and more that there are people who are just tired of my damn cancer. I don’t know if it is self-invalidation or invalidation by others or a combination of both. But I do sense that there are people in my life who are waiting for me “to get over it”.  Personally, I don’t think it is so bad that I have a little anxiety spell for a few hours.

It’s hard to get over it when there are physicians around who keep wanting to look at what is going on in my body through scans. I waited. And waited. I was not particularly nervous. Last year, I found my own MRI results on my electronic medical record. No news, tends to be good news at my cancer center. They usually jump into action if there’s anything that’s concerning or potentially concerning. I tried not to check online too often and each time, there was nothing there.

Yesterday, my friend, Julie asked me if I had gotten results. “No, not yet. Last time it took about two weeks.” She said, “Hasn’t it been two weeks already?” It had been a week and a half. I told her that I was not too worried but would give them a call on a day I was not seeing patients. I don’t like receiving news by phone. Who knows what I will be doing when they call? Julie said, “Okay, I will be impatient for you.”

I  don’t see patients on Wednesdays so I called my oncologist’s office this morning. I expected that if I were to get a call back today that Dr. Rinn would call me in the evening, as she has in the past. And I got the call at about 8:30pm. Due to the abrupt change in labs, the new labs’ reports have not yet been integrated into the electronic medical records for the cancer center. Dr. Rinn was apologetic about the wait. She told me that no abnormalities were found inside of my breast but they saw something on my skin. She asked, “Did you have a rash or something?”  “Yes, I had eczema on and below my left breast that day. I didn’t think to say anything about it.” She told me that she was going to tell the radiologist and see if they would be satisfied. Otherwise, I will have to go back in six months and have another double-scan week. It’s not the worst thing but it was a challenging week not to mention that after 3+ years of being a cancer patient, I am getting a bit concerned about all of the zapping and injecting I get for scans.

I am relieved about my news. I am also grateful that I did not waste too much time worrying and working myself into a tizzy. But I also felt a strong wave of compassion for my friends with metastatic cancer. They have scans so frequently, treatment so frequently, and have to wait for a living. Literally.