After 4 blood tests, a lung X-ray, ultrasounds of my kidneys and another of my stomach, a vaginal ultrasound, Echocardiography, more blood tests, which they tacked on at the last minute, I ended up with a Pet-CT (which is a CT scan of my entire body).
The absurdity is that the Pet-CT itself is cancerous because it’s like being shot with a thousand units of radiation at once… I made an appointment for 10.30 am. You need to fast for four hours beforehand, so I arrived hungry but in good spirits.
The test is done in the Isotopic Department – Nuclear Medicine. After waiting for 40 minutes I was lead alone into an exam room (I had come with my parents), which had warning signs all over. I was injected with a radioactive substance and lead into another room which had five other people in it. They gave us all a type of soft drink with a contrasting substance… (A cup full every 10 minutes).
Back in the exam room I was hooked up to yet another substance (Iodine) and lay down on a narrow bed. The machine was supposed to slide back and forth over me, scanning my entire body and checking if the cancer had, God forbid, metastasized.
I lay on the bed and the guy who had called me on the speaker earlier began explaining what was about to happen. I folded my arms over my head and he tied me down and left the room. The machine made a lot of noise when it came on. “The substance is going in,” he said over the loudspeaker. “Are you OK?”, “Yes,” I answered to the hidden microphone… I felt a hot flush rush through my body, especially in the area of my uterus, and a bitter taste filled my mouth (one of the side effects). Then the machine began moving up and down the length of my body.
One long scan was almost to my head and then down again towards the chest and then it stopped, Then it went back up (maybe it saw something), and stopped again… down towards the chest again – just lower this time (what could it possibly be looking at, my lump is higher up!), and down towards the uterus… another stop… (why did it stop, there is nothing down there! Why the hold up?!). I start to shiver, both from the cold and the panic that has suddenly taken hold of me.
The machine starts riding up again…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…….. stops at my belly (for God sake…), I try to calm myself to stop the shiver…. I imagine that when this is all over I leave for NY. I imagine myself walking the streets with shopping bags… suns out…. The Chrysler building in the background… I’m happy and relaxed. The voice wakes me from my pathetic attempt at guided meditation.
“Michal, are you OK? You’re shaking…”
“I know, I can’t seem to stop it… when will it be over?”
“Just a few more minutes, try to relax”
I keep shaking and tears start streaming down my face… every time the machine stops I panic that they may have found something else, and who knows what will happen now…
The machine stopped. I am still shaking. They called a Dr. who diagnosed it as stress, but still kept me for another 20 minutes to calm down. Finally he took the drip out of my arm and I could rejoin my parents who had been waiting for two hours… I sat next to my father and finally in his strong embrace, I calmed down.
It’s over. Now we wait for the results.
On Sunday, I am back at the hospitals fertility clinic; I am undergoing a procedure that will allow me to produce multiple eggs (similar to IVF), then after 10-14 days these are sucked out, put together with my husband’s sperm and frozen – it’s my insurance policy, in case the treatment harms my fertility…. I will always be able to put them back in or worst case scenario – surrogacy.
While all this is happening I start finding out the various options for wigs (looks like I’m going to opt for the permanent kind), and permanent makeup – the eye browse, this way I’ll maintain some form of normalcy, externally at least…
The moment I started to treat the whole thing like it was a project (as was recommended by my ‘Cancer friend’), I simply started moving from one stage to the next, managing the Cancer like it’s a huge Gantt chart for managing my disease. As I work through the tasks I mark them off and move onto the next.
And if I get stuck at a certain stage, or a particular task, or plans should change slightly – I am ready for that too. There is no room for losers here.