Facing uncertainty, we have choices between fear, stress and anxiety or magic.
Stacie Chevrier is a recovering type-A, corporate climber who made a big life change after being diagnosed with cancer in September 2014. She now spends her days focusing on writing, fitness and healthy living. Outside of these passions, Stacie can be found practicing yoga, enjoying anything outdoors, traveling and defying the odds as a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor survivor.
As I drove home after a long day of yoga teacher training with the windows down and the sunroof open, I passed a lake. Behind the lake was one of the most glorious Michigan summer sunsets. In my previous life, I would have kept driving. Instead, I made an illegal left turn into a parking lot, got out of my car and sat on the grass at the water’s edge. Maybe it was too much yoga, but I was feeling so grateful that for the moment, my health, my life and everyone and everything in it. Life was pretty darn magical in that moment.
And then, I almost let three little dots take it all away.
It was just two weeks after the post-yoga, magical sunset when I found myself at the hospital for my routine bloodwork, MRI and CT scan. All survivors know the time between these exams and the day of results can be tortuous. It’s as if time stands still and thoughts of imminent mortality are mixed with the contrast fluid that technicians pump through your body.
Two of these dots are in my lungs, an area that was never scanned before, but my specialist suggested we image them just to be thorough. My local oncologist said, “In a normal person, I would think nothing of them.” Gee, thanks. She explained that she was not too concerned, but we should check them again in a few months, since we’ve decided to be thorough and all.
But the other dot was on my liver and most definitely not there before. This one was more concerning, but the radiologist indicated it was not diagnostic for a recurrence since it didn’t look like typical cancer cells. It could be blood vessels, contrast fluid build-up, nothing or something. My doctor suggested that we wait a week for the blood tumor marker results, which have been one of the best historical indicators for me. Ugh, more tortuous waiting.
My feelings bounced from thunderstruck to anger to not caring for the rest of the day. When I woke up the following morning rested and clear-minded, I knew I had to make a choice. I could choose fear, stress and anxiety or I could choose magic.
I spent the next few days continuing to feel amazing and stronger than I have for years. I went to yoga. I reminded myself that worry is only harmful. I stayed present in the moment and told myself, “Right now, you’re great,” as much as I needed too. I meditated everyday. I ate well. I went to bed early. I enjoyed my life. I spent time with my husband. I played fetch with the dog. I surrounded myself with Tiggers. Basically, I chose magic. Finally it was the the day I knew the results would be ready on the patient portal. I logged in, closed my eyes, took a few breaths and opened them to see that the tumor marker blood results were normal. The next day, my doctor called to tell me the news I already knew. She suggested waiting three months and scanning again. I followed up with my specialist, who concurred with this and felt cautiously optimistic. While a recurrence is still a possibility, it’s always a possibility, and if that day comes, I’ve decided, I will choose magic.