By Barb Arland-Fye
Seated in a comfy chair in a cubicle at the Mayo Clinic, I waited for a small dose of radioactive glucose to make its way into my body through an IV. I was required to sit still in the chair for about 50 minutes in preparation for a PET scan, which would give my oncologist a clearer picture of activity in my lymph nodes.
I couldn’t distract myself with reading because that could elevate signs of activity in my body. What about anxiety? Would that have the same effect? If so, the lab technicians might suspect I had been reading after all!
So I imagined being in a chapel for eucharistic adoration. In the subdued lighting of my cubicle, I began the rote prayers whose rhythmic cadence can calm my nerves. That worked for a little while, until I began to overhear bits of conversations between nuclear techs and other patients seated quietly in their cubicles in the same room. Like me, each person was preparing for a PET scan, but for different reasons. Their health challenges seemed to be a sign from God, to me, that other people are dealing with far greater bumps in the road of life.
Finally, an attendant opened the curtain to my cubicle and guided me to the room where the PET scan would be conducted. A couple of years ago, a friend who survived lung cancer described the claustrophobic feeling of being inside the scanning machine.
To avoid claustrophobia, I closed my eyes and said the rosary, peeking every once in a while to see whether I was in the middle of the machine or close to its front and back openings. The lab attendant had asked if I could put my arms above my head during the procedure, and I said yes. Fifteen minutes later, at the end of the scan, I wondered whether I’d be able to put my arms back down!
My husband Steve was in the waiting room when I arrived at his side, smiling in relief. On the way out of the waiting room, the receptionist said, “Have a good day!” I replied with a thumb’s up and said, “I will now!”
Later that day, we had an appointment with the oncologist, who had the results of the PET scan and a bone marrow biopsy conducted a week earlier. The results of both tests were not what I anticipated, but should have come to expect: more testing! The biopsy showed some lymphoma in my bone marrow. That is not unexpected for individuals with follicular lymphoma, my oncologist assured me. The bigger concern was a large lymph node that appeared bright red in my abdomen. It will be biopsied next week. This cancer is not curable, but it’s treatable!
One of the Communion Antiphons for Oct. 1, from 1 John 3:16 reads: By this we came to know the love of God: that Christ laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”
I feel so blessed to have companions on the journey and their much appreciated prayers, and my husband at my side through thick and thin. He lays down his life for me every day.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)