Losing My Marbles in The Hope-Fear Continuum

On Friday I had CT scans of pretty much everything but my arms and legs to check the stage of my lumps and bumps as compared to three treatment cycles ago (that’s  just over two months ago.)  We’ll get the results Thursday morning, when I go in for my regular clinic appointment. 

Normally a head scan wouldn’t be included but I’ve been having some dizzy spells and frankly they’re freaking me out a bit.  Despite my best efforts, the words “brain tumour” crept into my mind like sneaky little spiders leaving clingy cobwebs of fear behind.   Reassuringly, my oncologist said that the problem is more likely related to circulation (it mostly happens when I stand up or get out of bed) but since I have a pretty good record of reporting symptoms that turn out to be indicators of disease progression, she’s not messing around. She tagged an “urgent” head scan onto my scheduled CT so we can get all the results at the same time. 

And so here I am again, trapped in the hope-fear continuum, as I always am whenever I wait for the results of tests like these.  No matter what I’m doing – working or buying groceries, talking or typing, listening or laughing – I can feel the almost magnetic tension between the poles of hope and fear.  It feels like walking a tightrope, where any slip can hurl me either into terror or wild optimism.

And this time in particular there’s a lot going on, pulling me in both directions.  There is the fear that the scans will reveal tumour growth or new spots, possibly in my (gulp) brain.  I’ve also noticed pain at the site of my original tumour, the one long-ago removed, and …is that a little lump under my arm?? 

But before I spiral down into the murky depths of Fearsville, let’s just shake off the slime of terror and foreboding for a moment and give the other end of the spectrum a chance.  Because there is also the lure of hope: pure and shiny and just as powerful a pull as the gravity of fear. And this time, offsetting the whirlpool suck of fear, I have to say hope’s got a pretty good leg-up. This time, I actually believe I have reason to be hopeful – dizzy spells and phantom tumour pain notwithstanding. 

Even though I’m superstitious enough to hesitate to blog it out to the universe for fear of jinxing myself, I’ve decided that I will share why I’m leaning toward hope because I also have a cockamamie theory that other people wishing for it too might help to make it come true.  So, here goes: I can feel that the lumps in my neck are getting smaller!  Its not just my imagination – my oncologist has on two occasions made a happy/surprised face and a little “Hm!” sound when examining me in the past few weeks.  (She is not the overly effusive type, so for her, I like to think “hm!” is the equivalent of jumping up and down and high-fiving me.) 

Anyway, I’ll know on Thursday. In the meantime I’ll walk the tightrope and try not to go completely mad.  Although I confess I’m rubbing my shrunken neck lumps like lucky pennies, and giving my brain and under arm lump 800-pound-gorilla status just by dint of the concentration it requires to not think about them.  

Luckily, I had a visit with my amazing cancer shrink yesterday, and he says “What-ifs” are strictly off limits.  No matter how positively you spin a What-if, reasons my amazing cancer shrink, it invites its opposite, thereby opening the door to anxiety.  And nobody wants to live in that house, located, as it is, in the reeking swamp of Fearsville.  So I just have to stay with what I know, which, right now, is …nothing.  Nothing is pretty hard to hold onto – but even if it’s not as great as good news, it’s still better than bad news.

Holding onto nothing… Oh my, my, my.  That’s the thing about cancer: you might beat the disease, but you’ll probably go crazy doing it.



Filed under Living with Breast Cancer

8 responses to “Losing My Marbles in The Hope-Fear Continuum

  1. Gwen

    Oh, Leanne! I so much empathize with your current state of mind. Uncertainty and not knowing are so hideously difficult to deal with. Regarding your dizziness and the spidery cobwebs of fear it is inducing, though, have you thought that perhaps it may simply be one of the side effects of Xeloda? Again, if you get up suddenly from a sitting or lying position and experience dizziness, you may be feeling the effects of a brief drop in blood pressure related to the change in position. It is quite common, and is not a symptom of anything dire. In any event, I am sending positive thoughts westwards towards you. I needn’t say how much I hope your follow-up appointment will go well. Till then, hang in there – you’re a champion at that, but it sure must be wearing!

  2. Lin

    I continue to admire you Leanne. You are one heck of a strong woman. As always, I’m sending you my hugs and prayers.

  3. Aunty Carol

    I will be praying extra hard tonight. If good thoughts produce good results, you should have excellent news.


  4. BSB

    I’ve been reading your blog since you started. I admired you so much. My strength is coming from you. I will pray for you very hard because I know if you get better I will feel better too..

  5. Carol W.

    Leanne, I can’t imagine the anxiety you are feeling today. There’s little, if anything, that can be said to make that go away. All I can say is pull on your boots and think like Nancy Sinatra “These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do.
    One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over [cancer]. Are you ready boots? Start walking!”


  6. Anita

    Sending tons of good thoughts your way today.


  7. Lisa B.

    Leanne – thinking of you today and sending all the karma I have and gather.

  8. lcoppen

    Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!! I’m just SO RELIEVED today that there is no bad news, and lots of good news!! I promised myself I would go to bed and rest as soon as I updated my blog — but I’m so grateful for all the support and comments I knew I wouldn’t be able sleep till I said THANK-YOU!!!!!

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