Column: ‘Scantsy’

Column: ‘Scantsy’


Kenneth B. Lourie

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to characterize the feelings I regularly experience during the final few weeks leading up to my every-three-month CT Scan, and even more so the feelings I experience waiting the following week or so to see my oncologist to discuss the results. “Scanxiety,” “scanxious,” “ascance,” “scanticipation,” “scancer,” “scantastic,” “scanning the horizon,” are all descriptions I’ve made up to try and “humorize” an incredibly difficult set of circumstances. How else should I react to news on which my life depends? If the scan shows growth and/or movement – which it hasn’t for 18 months or so – it will be, as they say in Boston, “Katie bar the door,” which means: look out, trouble ahead. However, if my luck continues and the scan shows “stable” (a new favorite word), or even better, “shrinkage,” then I can semi-relax for the next three months until we scan again.

This is the cyclical axis on which my life churns. And though I’ve become accustomed to this life cycle, to say it has become easier as well is a bit of an oversimplification. Familiar? Certainly. Regularly scheduled? Of course. Expected? Naturally. Used to? Sort of. Stressful? Need I say? Just because I know the drill doesn’t mean I don’t fear the bit. Some things are out of one’s control. Cancer might be at the top of that list. After all, I was originally given a “terminal” diagnosis: stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, with a rather discouraging “13-month to two-year” prognosis to boot. And though I’ve survived nearly six years from that fateful day when Team Lourie first met with my oncologist, I don’t feel particularly confident about my future. I know where I’ve been; still, I don’t know where I’m going (figuratively speaking; if only there were a GPS for such problems). At this point, I’m glad to be going anywhere, figuratively or literally. The guarantees have long since left the building.

Wednesday, I’ll be driving to Gaithersburg, Maryland for my next CT Scan. And given the excellent results I’ve been amazingly fortunate to receive these last few years, I am happy return to this same location and hopefully be tended to by the same technicians. They’re my good luck charms, and every appointment/scan, I tell them so, and thank them for my above-average results and encourage them as well to keep up the good work.

At the end of the day; heck, at the beginning of the day too, who knows what matters in this fight against cancer? And though I’m sure I’ve left a few stones unturned, I have turned over a few rocks. I’ve made some changes, as you regular readers know, and I suppose I’m living proof that all is not as lost as sometimes it might initially appear to be. My life has gone on much longer then I was led to believe, and a great deal more favorably than I had a right to expect.

Every scan reminds me of who I am, what I have and the statistical anomaly which I have become. As much as I’d like to minimize the significance of this quarterly CT Scan, I can’t. When one’s life might be hanging in the balance, it’s difficult to maintain your equilibrium.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers.