Monday January 19th, 2015
I couldn’t eat for 6 hours because of the pet scan and CT scan scheduled at 3 PM.This made my nausea almost unbearable as I was being driven into the city by Randy. Of course, everything is always sitting on top of the anxiety and fear of the unknown and, as I’ve realized, this invisible stress changes the way I feel and think at every moment.
I didn’t think I would be able to make it through the tests. With the radioactive dyes they shoot into you and their “drink this” and “lie here in this huge tube and don’t move” instructions, well, I was just a mess. I knew though that if I didn’t deal with it that day, I would have to go through the same ritual at another time so my main goal was simply- don’t vomit until its over. I mean, just picture yourself incredibly seasick for 6 hours on a rough sea, with no relief (and you are on a carnival ship no less.) That’s how I felt.
I finished the scans at about 4PM and went outside to meet Randy and my mom who were waiting for me. Still weak from it all, I gingerly made my way to get a bite to eat before our planned meeting with the doctor at the main Sloan offices. I was just so happy to get the tests over with that all I could think about was not being nauseous. That was still my life’s goal for that moment. All I cared was alleviating this nausea. Give me some relief.
“Please! I just want to feel better,” I cried to Randy.
I waited in the doctor’s office and spoke with the nurse. Thankfully, as time went on and after some eating, I was beginning to feel better.
The doctor walks in: Dr. Doer, the Israeli lead doctor, 50ish or so, and an expert in this area of Leukemia. His usually messy white hair had just been cut, I noticed, but he still had this mad professor aura that strangely was easy to trust. He was there with 3 of his colleagues.
“How are you feeling?” he asks in his perfectly Americanized Israeli accent
“Sick,” I told him, “Very sick.”
“Well, I have some news for you. We just looked at the scans you took.
I marveled at technology and his ability to see and act so quickly.
“You are cancer free, ” he told me, beaming from ear to ear, proud along with everyone else in the room.
“…Say that again.” The tears welled up in both Randy and my eyes. It was a moment that stood still and we still didn’t quite understand.
“You do not have any cancer in your body. You are in remission. It is gone. We checked every cell in your body and though you still have that mass, it is benign- full of dead cells and scar tissue. You and your body have responded amazingly to treatment, and though we always expect positive results, this… at this point, well let us say, we are very pleased.
The cancer has left your body. ”
We sat there a little longer and spoke, my nausea had disappeared, and we cried a little more, from relief, from exhaustion, from just experiencing a moment and of course, from joy and gratitude.
Was this a miracle? It doesn’t matter. What I believe was everything that I did, the love from my friends and family, the energy healing, the collective prayers, the good research and planning to end up at Sloan and of course Dr. Doer and his chemo treatments put my cancer in remission.
Call it what you will. I choose to say we have a choice in the outcomes we
The chemo protocol over the next year must be completed however. It’s so this damn cancer thing never returns and the team is confident that it never will.
And even though my body is cancer free, the mass is not gone. It is now a bunch of dead cells and scar tissue. Over time this will dissipate into my body.
I said last month that getting cancer would alter my life; that I knew there were changes I wanted to make and had to make. That making money for money’s sake was not enough. I needed more than that in my life, and that it would force me to look a things: my relationships, my daily life, who I want to be and my ability to love and enjoy, even embrace the stresses of daily life so that I am living for fun and not out of fear.
I even saw some of my old self start to creep up today, worrying and feeling discontented and not being grateful. That is the Nathan I don’t want to see anymore. I want to be present to a great life, the deep love I have for my amazing wife, the strong love and bond I have with my kids as well as all the other rich relationships I have developed in my lifetime.
So I know I have hardly learned anything yet, except that I am now very conscious that those ugly and fearful thoughts I have that dig me deeper into sickness… they aren’t me, they are just my thoughts.
Yes, I have a lot of scar tissue in my body. It’s big and scary but it’s also benign. It’s a reminder that I am not nearly done with my journey. My continued protocol Dr. Doer has me on is only a part of my continued healing. Accepting what I have as perfect, trusting and believing in myself and killing off the fearful Nathan that I can be, to me is as powerful as the chemo that is shot through my veins.