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I have Cancer

Scan Days in Cancerville

Ester Van Heerden-Hill, a member of CANSA Survivors – Champions of Hope Facebook Support Group for cancer patients shares about living in Cancerville and the ‘special’ days that make it challenging:

We in Cancerville have got a lot of special days. D-Day for Diagnosis Day. Cancerversaries. 5-year survival dates, etc. One that comes around yearly and sometimes more often is S-Day. Scan-day.

The thing about a scan that makes it particularly disconcerting, is that it can go either way. The scan is good, or it is bad. Nothing in between. I’ve worked long and hard to view the world as NOT black and white, yet this is precisely what is expected of me regarding scans. No peaceful moonlit silvery shade. Black or white.

A scan is something that can thoroughly mess up your day / month / year, or send you to the pinnacle of ecstasy. It’s the rollercoaster ride par excellence. Well, I really can’t stand roller coasters. Don’t want to go on them at all. I am the one staring at them from a distance, thankful for the fact that my feet are planted firmly on the ground.

Isn’t it strange how much power S-Day wields? The worst dictator in the world can tower over me and spit fire, I would not be as scared as I am of S-Day. And the thing is, it never is just a day, is it? I can handle 24 hours I guess. But no no no, S-Day starts WEEKS earlier.

It starts with the odd sleepless night, the sudden tightening of your stomach, your mind getting busier and busier, your chores left undone, the procrastination of important stuff, the whatsapps that go unanswered. Left to its own devices, the monster gets out of control. At some stage you lose concentration, you don’t enjoy your favourite TV show any more, and the best food is tasteless.

You want to plan your next vacation, but what if? You want to start a new project, but what if? You want to move, you want to dream, you want to study, you want to enjoy, but what if?

A week before S-Day the smallest thing brings on the tears. Everything carries extra meaning. Somebody is nice to you? You cry. Somebody is nasty to you? You cry. And this tearfulness you try to hide from everybody else, because they have enough on their plate, right? You don’t want to add onto that.

A lot of small happenings and things and people carry you through the last week: hugs, smiles, memories, poems, prayers, quotes, mantras, music, flowers, and yes indeed, dreams. Never give up on those!

My next scan is coming up this Friday. At this moment, with two days left to go, I am like the naughty child walking the last metres to the head master’s office. I am walking in the parking lot on my way to the car, only to realise it’s been stolen. I am the student who sits down for the exam, only to realise that my mind has gone completely blank. I am the passenger on a plane, and they have just asked us to fasten our seat belts. Turbulence on its way!

But then the boxer, out for the count, raises his head. Bring it on, damnit! I will walk the last few metres. I will focus my mind until I find something to put on paper. I will fasten the seat belt and endure the rough ride. I just might pass that exam and the plane just might land safely. And the scan just might be clear. Right?

I will take it, but not lying down. Ready to fight another S-Day.

15 May 2019

*Published with Ester’s permission


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