overhead, as the machine whirred around me and the table shifted me painfully slowly as images were taken of every millimeter of my body. For 20 minutes I laid there with my legs propped over a pillow pyramid and rolled towels on either side of my head so that it wouldn't move out of the carved pillow it was cradled in.
With each in-breath I said in my head: "I am." With each out-breath: "all clear." I imagined light rays everywhere and healing golden yellow pouring over my cells in the consistency of slow moving, soothing honey rolling over any cancer cells and converting them to healthy ones. My mind would drift to fearful, bad places. My eyes spilled some hot tears down my cheeks with the weight of knowing how important this first post-transplant PET Scan was. Along with my meditation a steady track of that Five For Fighting song, "Superman," kept running over and over in my head: "I'm only a man in a silly red sheet digging for kryptonite on this one way street. Only a man in a funny red sheet looking for special things inside of me ... it's not easy to be, me."
I kept thinking of a very vivid memory I have of being 17 years old and pulled over to the side of the road in my light powder blue Toyota Corolla (pic is from six years later when I traded that baby in). I was crying hysterically into the steering wheel to "Superman" playing on the radio because I was so exhausted and stressed that I had to go from my summer playground counselor job right to scooping ice cream until close at Peaches 'n Cream. How blissfully unaware I was. It made me smile.
Monday night and Tuesday morning were tough as we awaited the results of the PET Scan. Tuesday Craig and I went into clinic and tensely awaited not only the scan results, but my first post-transplant bone marrow aspiration procedure.
Dr. Sauter had just returned from a cruise around the Mediterranean. He was slightly bronzed and whistling and obviously rested. I immediately feel at ease around him, his expertise and his easy demeanor. I was slightly high on an Ativan to try and calm my nerves, was squeezing Craig's hand like it was a speedster's joy stick, and had Bob Marley playing through my headphones. The doctor came into the procedure room where I was on the table my pants were already down, my ass out and skin prepped for him to drill through my hip bone and send a needle into my marrow. He would pull out my stem cells and send them for analysis to see how much of my sister's genetic makeup had taken over.
After the initial pleasantries he immediately calmly and laxidasically said: "Your scan looks good."
I perked up. "What do you mean, good?"
"I haven't gotten the full radiologist's read yet, but from my take it looks like all areas of involvement are gone," said Dr. Sauter.
I could physically feel the weight lift off me, though my buns were still clenched with the anticipation of the marrow aspiration to come.
He looked at my hip bone awaiting him and said: "You're so thin this will be easy," paused and continued "... for me." All three of us laughed and I laid there ironically so at peace with the news of my clear scan while Craig looked on in interest as the procedure progressed and Dr. Sauter muscled and drilled into my bone.
I squeezed Craig's hand harder as the needle went up and down into my marrow and Dr. Sauter kept repeating very soothingly: "Slow, deep breaths; slow, deep breaths." Then it was over and the deep red blood cells from the syringe were smeared onto glass slides to be analyzed. I've never left a bone marrow biopsy smiling as big as I was underneath my mask.
The clinic day continued and we met more formally with the doctor. The radiologist's report came in to officially confirm that there was "interval resolution of FDG avid osseous lesions, right axillary and retroperitoneal lymph nodes." In English: THERE ARE NO SIGNS OF LYMPHOMA. No lesions remain on my sacrum and bones. The spot in my chest is gone. My abdomen is clear. The lead in chemo was effective and my sister's immune system has started working to keep the cancer away.
I am not out of the woods yet and Craig and I both know this all too well. But for right now we are accepting this as very good news. A miracle in my eyes. This is a huge sign that the hellish days I've gone through were worth every ounce of torture and that the gift of life my sister has given me is blossoming inside of me.
This news has done a tremendous amount for my mental and emotional healing. I now know in measurable terms that I am on my way to being healed. I am on my way to being cured of this cancer forever. I am in awe of this science and grateful beyond words.