By Jennifer Ryan
My kitchen has never been so clean and tidy. I had my yearly whole body scan on July 17 as part of my follow-up cancer care for thyroid cancer. I will get the results on August 6. This is an extremely challenging amount of time to wait for results. Hence, my super clean kitchen. Twenty days to mull over every inch of the scan process. Did they pause too long on a certain part of my body? Was the technician quiet afterwards because they found something? The scan was shorter than last time, is that good news? The endless questions and over-analysis of the process will repeat for twenty whole days.
This is only my second yearly scan as I had a pass for the last two years because I was pregnant and breastfeeding. I know I have to gain some better coping skills during this uncertain time. I will be getting these scans for the rest of my life according to my specialist, so it’s worth the effort to find ways to make the waiting more bearable.
A couple things that I have enjoyed making a part of my post-scan routine are going on a little getaway, exercising, time with family and friends, and cleaning.
After my initial radiation and scan in June 2017, my family and I planned a trip to Prince Edward Island. This was a wonderful time-filler with planning and packing for a family of five to hit the road for ten days. We drove from St. John’s to Corner Brook to spend time with my brother and his family before continuing on to P.E.I. I know I am very fortunate to have the means to do this with my family.
Following my scan this year, we made the best of this odd year and planned a little getaway to Gros Morne and Terra Nova to go camping with family and to also support our local economy. I highly recommend planning a getaway during the waiting period to fill your time with planning/packing and hopefully an enjoyable time away.
Exercise has always been an important part of my life. I played several sports in grade school and loved the camaraderie with my teammates. Exercise looks different for me these days with some low-key activities such as walks with my children, hikes, and bike rides, but I still always feel better afterwards, especially directly following too much time in my head overthinking my scan.
I’m excited to start clocking kilometres on my bike for YACC’s Roller Brave virtual relay event and raise funds for YACC. It’s a great way to stay motivated to exercise and contribute to an amazing organization that gives so much to our community.
Family and friends have been monumental in helping me cope during this waiting period. Our recent family getaway consisted of everyone on my side of our family: my parents, siblings and spouses, and all of our children. While hectic at times with so many people, we made a lot of great memories and had a lot of fun together.
My parents asked my husband and I to help with building a new front deck on their house this summer, and that was also a great way to pass the time and spend some quality time with my family.
The “two-bubble” life that this health pandemic has gifted Newfoundlanders and Labradorians has given me the opportunity to spend more time with one of my close friends whom I haven’t seen in a while since family life took over. I couldn’t be happier to have her back in my life regularly. It’s important to make time for friends; laughing is good for the soul and also brings a general calm to me that is extremely beneficial during this waiting period.
While cleaning my house doesn’t seem like the most joyous way to spend my time waiting for my scan results, it really has helped reduce my anxiety by allowing me to exert some control over my surroundings while my health status is unknown. It is one piece of the puzzle that helps me keep my cool during this awful long waiting period.
I will enjoy my clean kitchen for the time being and continue to fill my time with the things that bring me the most joy in life.