I've always believed that our cancer "check-ups" shouldn't be a negative experience. We have to have them, so why not make it a fun thing? I personally visit the doctor every 6-8 months for the dreaded (by most anyway) colonoscopy, blood work, and CT scan. Getting a colonoscopy actually doesn't bother me... contrary to what the general public likes to portray, it's really no big deal. No, it doesn't hurt, and sure it's a little embarrassing but really what doctors appointment isn't? At least you won't be awake for it! I get an early appointment, stay up the night before watching movies, and then I get put to sleep and get a really amazing nap... no big deal! But, since sometimes it can make us cancer people anxious about the results, I make vacations out of my check ups.
When I was fighting cancer I was treated at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD (LOVED it and would recommend it to anyone! Such a great experience and I loved my doctors). My first time up there was for surgery. The first week we did tests and the second week was the operation. Two days before my surgery I was in DC seeing museums, doing research for a paper I was writing, and loving spending the day with my mom and my best friend Eunice. The day before my surgery we all went to the Aquarium in Baltimore. It made some really great memories... so much so that I have forgotten many of the bad ones. And since then every 6 months or so I make the trip back up there, always remembering to take a day trip to DC.
Eunice and Me at the Inner Harbor before visiting the aquarium the day before my surgery.
Me and Eunice in DC (Chinatown I think) 2 days before surgery.
David (my husband), me, my mom, and Eunice visiting DC in 2010 when I was in Baltimore for a check up.
Last week I went for my check up but this trip was different. My GI doctor fr
om Johns Hopkins that I LOVE moved to Orlando and I had to decide what to do. Well, my decision was actually kind of easy. Since I'm from Alabama, Orlando is way closer than Johns Hopkins. And the GI part of my check up is most important... I also have an oncologist here in Mobile that can do my CT scans for me. And since we are way past broke right now (thanks economy) it seemed more sensible to go to Orlando. Plus I had never been! Well, not since I was 4 anyway. Well we made it an awesome trip... we packed a cooler and ate meals in parking lots on the way down like we did when we were kids, made sandwiches in the hotel room (told you we're broke), watched the Alabama-Florida game on Saturday night, went to the Disney Boardwalk and Downtown Disney (the free areas... who knew free could be so much fun!?), and had one really awesome meal at PF Changs. I saw the doctor Friday evening and then had my scope on Monday morning... this time it was a colonoscopy and an endoscopic ultrasound (to check my pancreas since I had pancreatitis not too long ago). The test went fine... one area of inflammation that he biopsied but it's probably nothing. Pancreas also looked fine and I had no gallstones which is good. But after talking with him we did decide to go ahead with surgery to remove a mass that has been found on my left ovary and has attached to my uterus. We think it is benign but it is always better to check than be sorry. It's been there since my diagnosis but has been growing, though slowly. The only reason for any real concern is that my PET scan prior to my surgery detected metastasis to my uterus (but during surgery they saw nothing so they thought the PET was wrong). But some things can be seen on scan and not to the naked eye. So we'll see. I'm sure I'll blog about surgery whenever it happens.
Dr. Giday after one of my check-up scopes at Johns Hopkins. He's awesome.
So enjoy your scan times! Don't dwell on them. If you stay in town, make it a point to see a movie, or go shopping, or have a nice meal, or something else that is unique to your town. Make a new tradition. And don't be afraid to change it sometimes. Cancer brings so much negative... let's try to counteract it with positive! You might be surprised at the fun you have :)