They don't let you read or otherwise engage your eyes for the 45 minutes it takes for the sugar water cocktail to pump through your veins and attach to your cancer cells, and I remember my wait in April being excruciating. This time, I had five months of on and off again meditation practice in my arsenal, so I chilled with my third eye.
The scan itself is like the CT or MRI donut hole experience, but completely relaxing with the IV taken out; so much so that I drifted off for a moment and jerked awake when they were scanning my noggin.
"You're almost free to go, Mrs. McCart, and you can drink and eat whatever you want now... vodka, gluten-free brownies, anything," the tech said. "We just have to check that your brain scan matches up with the CT you did back in the beginning."
This is when the stress I'd been holding off for weeks returned like a slap upside the head.
I had visions of the techs in the observation room pointing and gasping as they looked at my brain light up like a Christmas tree with giant, willow-tree rooted tumours.
"Holy shit, is this the same woman's brain from five months ago?! It CAN'T be! We need to be sure about this... Be cool... just tell her you have to do some administrative check so she doesn't panic. It's THE WORST when people ask you to give them hints about their results. Cancer patients are such jerks."
The next two days at home were torturous.
By Friday afternoon, I stationed myself at my dining room table, playdate central going on around me to keep my brain occupied, my landline and mobile phones on either side of me, volumes turned to max.
I finally called to leave a useless message with the Cancer Agency appointment desk to tell them I was promised results by week's end. PROMISED, you assholes!
Finally, after putting off Frances and her endless "braid my hair!" requests all day, at 5:30 pm, I resigned myself to having a fretful long weekend and left my position as watcher on the wall.
And of course... this is when the fucking phone rings.
The next five minutes I was in whirling dervish mode as I ran from my landline to my mobile to my carrier pigeon, trying to catch Dr. A as she tried to reach me. When we finally connected, I was swearing my head off and she was her usual nerdy self.
She read the report out word for word so I had to keep interjecting with "what does that mean?". The gist of it was that the scan showed no disease in any organs or my brain, no remaining disease in the original areas on my chest and collarbone and only one small "non-specific" area under my right arm, which was there before, is still categorized as "suspicious", and will be ultrasounded and likely biopsied soon.
Best. News. Ever.
"It's really quite good. I'm quite happy with the results," she said with perhaps a very small hint of a smile.
I hung up the phone, cried and made out with my boyfriend.
We've been giddy all weekend, deliberately ignoring the details of the next phase of treatment. I feel like the girl in my "Girl riding a horse" lino print I wept over and then bought from a local artist, Telma Bonet, when I was diagnosed in 2010.
The path in front of me feels open and endless.