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Cancer, CT Scans, Nodules and Liberation from Terror

06 Sep

This gutsy post came from social worker and 3-time cancer survivor Jan Adrian last week.  Jan founded Healing Journeys, a terrific organization that supports healing, activates hope and promotes thriving for people touched by cancer.  Read on!

Dear Friends,
Two weeks ago I had my annual Chest X-ray to see if my ocular melanoma or breast cancer had metastasized to my lungs.  When I had a call from my doctor the next day, I knew it wasn’t good news. There was a nodule on my lung and he wanted me to have a CT scan. I got the scan done on a Wednesday and the technician said my doctor would have the results the next morning.

I was impressed with how quickly my anxiety level was over the top. On Thursday I couldn’t concentrate and I felt like crying all day. I kept thinking about what I would do if I found out I had metastatic cancer.  It would mean that all the diet, exercise, and lifestyle efforts I had made hadn’t made a difference. I might as well go back to enjoying Root Beer Floats. I felt angry, disappointed, and like I just didn’t have any energy left to fight cancer again. I called my doctor’s office twice and was promised he would call me before the end of the day. He didn’t.

Then something happened Thursday night as I read and meditated. I remembered that my prayer is to “make me an instrument” and to “use me.”  What if my having cancer again was the way I could be most useful – as an inspiration to others somehow?  It’s more important to me that my life be meaningful rather than easy. I don’t want to judge any experience as bad or good, but accept them all as part of the package.  I believe that “all things work together for good.” That was on a plaque in my parents’ home as I was growing up and it has always brought me comfort.  Thinking about that, I became peaceful and calm, and I had a restful night’s sleep.

On Friday I called my doctor’s office again and was told he had left for a 2 week vacation. I asked if they had the results of my CT scan and they did. I asked to please have the on-call doctor call me and give me the results. By 6 p.m. I hadn’t received a phone call and I was surprised that I wasn’t even thinking about it anymore. I was feeling OK with whatever would be. I could have a good weekend without knowing the results.

At 8:30 p.m. I noticed there was a message on my cell phone. It had been with me all day and I didn’t hear it ring. The message was from the on-call doctor. She said she compared my CT scan with a 2007 scan. The nodule was there in 2007 and it hadn’t changed. She said it was nothing to worry about because it was stable. I didn't even know it had been detected before. Maybe all my efforts were making a difference. Hurray! I emailed all my friends who had been praying for me, and I celebrated.  Even though I was OK with whatever would happen, it is still my preference to be healthy.

I am glad I didn’t get the results right away because it gave me the opportunity to get in touch with my inner strength and my inner knowing that I will be OK no matter what. I’m not just a body. Someday I know this body won’t go on, and I will still be OK. I like being reminded of that periodically. 

In the spirit of healing,
Jan Adrian, MSW
Founder and Executive Director

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award