I took the header photograph a couple of years ago. It’s a view of the sunset from the small bay where our home lies on Lake Palestine in Northeast Texas. At the time I was wanting pictures to simply hang on the wall for new décor. There were four in the series I took that ended up in the master bathroom.
Yesterday was my birthday. When I visited Facebook, there was a long string of Happy Birthday greetings on my timeline from family and friends. A neighbor brought by some bite-size brownies and a card. Another neighbor and dear friend called to relay her wishes for my day. My granddaughter called and sang the Happy Birthday song to me like her father had every year that I can remember before he passed. My husband’s first words to me as I woke were, “Happy Birthday.” It was a good day.
Birthdays are often a time of reflection. We take a long look at our lives: where we have been; where we are; and where we are going. I found myself in the mental posture of reflection for most of the day. Recent events had revealed a new journey which started a few weeks ago. I embarked on a time of uncertainty. The road ahead is vaguely outlined but I should soon know what is in store down the line.
Being a retired nurse, I should know to listen to my primary care provider and follow her recommendations at the time she makes them. Last February she referred me for lung cancer screening when I went for my annual physical. I filed that information in my subconscious and went on about my daily life, after telling the scheduler at the time, I would call back when I had time to come in for the CT scan. I did not think about it again until a few months ago when I became more and more fatigued and developed a chronic cough.
After six weeks of feeling subpar with just ordinary activities of daily living, I broke down and made the call to schedule the CT. The scheduled date was November 9th and the test was easy, lasting only a few minutes. The day of the week was Thursday. I received the results on Monday the 13th.
The radiologist report showed I had 5 lung nodules. These were located bilaterally, in both lungs, with 3 being in the right lung and 2 in the left. These all were small with the largest being only 13mm in size. The quality of three, including the largest, were of ground-glass opacity and 2 were small solid nodules. The former are the most concerning as they can often be or develop into adenocarcinoma. The multiplicity of the nodules were also concerning and required immediate follow up with a lung specialist.
The wait began as my appointment with Dr. Teka, to whom I was referred, would not be until the 27th due to the Thanksgiving holiday scheduling. I stayed positive and did not let the news interfere with having a wonderful Thanksgiving with my husband Ronny and my granddaughter Alyssa and her friend Bill.
The day finally arrived on Monday this week. I really like the doctor. She was very thorough in obtaining my complete health history including family history in which my oldest brother died at age 58 from lung cancer and my sister at age 60 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She examined me and then stated her concerns and a plan.
“Mrs. Rogers, I believe the best course of action is to follow up immediately with a PET/CT scan. This scan involves injecting a solution into your veins which will show up ‘hot spots’ where the nodules involved may be malignant. The largest may be the only one that will uptake the nuclear medicine. However, we will also be looking at other areas of your body since multiple lung nodules often are caused by a primary tumor somewhere else in your body. If the results are inconclusive, we will repeat a scan in 3 months to see if the lung nodules grow. If the results show ‘hot spots’ we will proceed with a biopsy.”
I crossed over into the beginning of wherever I’m going after hearing her assessment. The appointment for the PET/CT is for tomorrow morning, Friday, December 1st, at 8:00 am. I’ve received all the instructions for the test and I’m prepared to go. I’m sure it will be at least Monday or later before I get the results. She said she would call as soon as she gets them.
I will have had another week of waiting and wondering what’s next by the time I hear her tell me the results. The me in the flesh is anxious to know. The me that is eternal is walking with the Holy Spirit as my comforter and guide. Apparently this is going to be a really long journey whatever the outcome is on this test. At best I’ll be followed very closely for two years to see if I develop a malignancy. At worst I’ll be battling the disease with treatment.
If my faith were not as strong, I would probably be in fear. I’m not. I surrender all to the Lord for He loves me. He cares for me. He will watch over me with every step I take. That is what my spirit says. My flesh has a different perception. It says, “Sometimes life sucks.”