photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Exhale. Unclench. Smile.

"No cancer. Mr. Dixon? Good to see you. Nice shirt."

Dr. Hanna smiles to his entourage as he examines Ward who is wearing a Hawaiian print shirt, as always.

"Mr. Dixon always has the most fabulous shirts".

Then he sits down next to me and says, "So. How long has it been since he's had cancer?"

Seven years.

Which is outstanding. There's no good reason for me to be twitchy about cancer- they've scanned him every six months and every six months Dr. Hanna strides into the room and says, "No cancer. Mr. Dixon? Good to see you. Nice shirt".

In fact, two years ago Dr. Hanna recommended that we go to yearly scans. Ward was for it.

I couldn't do it.

Two years ago I agreed to nine months. Within three months there was a lump on Ward's eyelid- which freaked us out just a little because that's where the cancer started on his other eye- the eye that isn't there anymore along with a good portion of that side of his face. It turned out to be nothing, but I quickly retreated back to the security of scans every six months.

Because I'm superstitious and neurotic and always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Take Tuesday.

Ward had had his PET scan on Monday and when he went in for his ultrasound Tuesday morning he came out grinning. "The doctor looked at the ultrasound and said 'no biopsy needed- it's nothing'.'s nothing".

We were both thrilled. In celebration we got breakfast at the little cafe in hospital, sat out on the patio and fed the birds right next to the 'DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS' sign.

But there was a check to our happiness, a caution, a little voice that told us we hadn't seen Dr. Hanna yet, hadn't heard "No cancer. Mr. Dixon? Good to see you. Nice shirt" yet and because this was our life we're talking about here the odds were very high that Dr. Hanna would walk in and say, "Mr. Dixon? The lump in question is nothing- no worries. But there's this spot here...and here...and over here that are cause for concern. Nothing a massive dose of poisons won't kill tho; I'll set you up with that department ASAP. Nice shirt- see you soon".

So we withheld our full-out happy-dance.

Dr. Hanna is still sitting next to me, reassuring smile, kind eyes. "Do we want to go to yearly scans yet? I know it's been very difficult- but all his troubles have been from healing complications, not cancer".

I tried.

I tried to say, "YES- yearly scans are fine. I'm totally over that whole scared-shitless-about-cancer-killing-my-beloved-husband thing. I'm cool with that".

But I couldn't.

Our eyes were locked.

Finally I blinked and said..."Nine months".

Dr. Hanna laughed and said to his PA, "OK. Set Mr. Dixon up for an MRI and chest X-ray in nine months- we'll see you then".

But now we're home and it's had some time to sink in.

More importantly, I've had time to exhale. To unclench. To smile.

I've just called Dr. Hanna's office to ask them to move the next check-up to 12 months...a whole year.


Only if it's a PET scan- nose to toes and checking every cell like this last time. Not 'just' an MRI of the head/neck and a chest x-ray.

I mean, I may have exhaled, unclenched and smiled; but I'm still the same ol' superstitious neurotic.

What was that sound? That wasn't a shoe dropping, was it?

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