scanxiety

lilacs in bloom may blooms lavendar natural plants essential oils

May’s Little Black Bag

“You know those are kinda strong, right?” said Tom. He looked straight ahead at the road. I grinned and watched him drive. I continued layering on essential oils from a little black bag I carry in my purse.

“Yep. I know. They’ll wear off a bit before we walk into the building.” Maybe.

I do a 30-second nutritional scan every 4-5 days. It’s sort of like a fitness tracker – it uses scientific technology to match up frequencies in my body with frequencies in essential oils. Once the personalized scan report shows me the top essential oils and supplements my body is responding to at that moment, I load up my little black bag for the week and then I layer those liquid gems on my skin each day for wellness support. It takes just three seconds for essential oils to get into my body and they reach every cell in the body within 20 minutes. They release emotional trauma. They are capable of passing the blood-brain barrier. They are a key part of my journey at this time to remain above the wellness line. Most empowering scan for this cancer survivor, ever.

We parked and walked a short distance into the building where my annual CT scan results lay waiting. Ready to pounce? Or ready to send us happily on our way?

“You smell really good, what is that??” asked the receptionist when I checked in at her desk.

Today, friend, my little black bag holds Coriander, Dill, Cardamom, Copaiba, Black Pepper, Frankincense, and Tangerine essential oils that are all rubbed on my wrists. Joy and Aroma Life go over my heart. That doesn’t include what I researched and chose to use at home most of this month such as Sacred Frankincense morning and night on the soles of my feet, over my lungs, cupped in my hands and breathed gratefully into my lungs; alternated nightly with Exodus II on my feet; Thyme and Oregano alternated daily in the morning on my feet; JuvaCleanse in my water and over my liver; Forgiveness over my abdomen; Hope on my ears; Release in the diffuser at night with Lavender; immune support blend rolled on my spine before morning mineral makeup… and Progessence Plus, Lady Sclareol and Sclaressence for support for menopause courtesy of chemo and radiation seven years ago…

“Oh, thanks!” Those were the words I said out loud. Tom had mysteriously moved to the far side of the waiting room. “The scent is from a few (cough) essential oils I wear for wellness support.”

The lab tech took my blood pressure. The reading was higher than usual. That’s how I roll in the oncologist office.

We were led into an exam room. Silence sat with us for a few moments. 50/50 chance of sun or shade. 100 percent chance of God’s love and care.

The oncologist entered with a slight smile on her face.

“I’m happy to tell you that your scans remain stable.” We exhaled. She went over a few more details.

“You mentioned the benign lung nodule when I saw you before the scan a couple weeks ago; has that changed at all from last year?” I asked.

Over the past two weeks, between the pre-scan consultation and the actual CT scan, I did all I knew how to do for a “spring detox”. I went back to the basics of moderate juicing and mostly plant based foods. This is good to do periodically throughout the year anyway, and to be truthful, I feel best when eating this way. I had also been consumed with researching ways to support healthy respiratory and lung function using specific essential oils. A fearsome thought had taken up residence in my head after the consultation. What if, after being clear five years from cancer affecting my colon, the little sleeping lung nodule she keeps talking about could become a new problem?

“Oh, yes, the lung nodule. Let’s see.” The oncologist studied the report on the screen. “No, there is no change. Wait. Actually… it did change.” (Angst.)

“It went from 2 cm down to 1 cm.” (Joy. Whoa.)

We discussed a couple more regular tests she wants me to have. I won’t need annual scans going forward. We’ll just do annual monitoring.

At the checkout desk the staff members were still commenting on how nice whatever I was wearing smelled. I know, right? It’s the best. Simply, the best.

“Thank you! I’m glad you like the scent.”

Tom and I walked out of the building. We looked at each other.

“It could have gone either way. 50/50. People hear a different outcome than we just did, every single day.” He said exactly what I was thinking.

We know and love some of those people.

We’ve been those people.

We could be those people again someday.

Green trees, bright May sunshine, and fresh air.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.Psalm 57:1


A week after my fifth annual “all clear” visit with the oncologist in May 2018, I was using my oils and thinking about something my dad used to mention. He said there was a lady in his family that used to carry around a little black bag. He thought perhaps she used herbs. This intrigued me because I was trying to support my body in a similar natural fashion through the good gift of essential oils. I asked different family members if they knew whom my father had meant and each person said I needed to call my Aunt Maybelle. She is my dad’s older sister, and she patiently listened to my questions on the phone.

“Of course! That would have been your great grandmother, May Emily Morgan Burd. We called her ‘Ma Burd’. She was a midwife, and she carried a little black bag with herbs in it to help people.” I was grateful to my aunt for sharing her knowledge about my great grandmother.

I have a whole new fondness for my little black bag. I don’t have Ma Burd’s knowledge of nursing people and helping them with herbs; but you’d better believe I will keep right on filling my own little black bag with the herbal goodness from essential oils. They are one key blessing among many things I do to try and stay above the wellness line.

may emily morgan burd daniel ferris burd

May Emily Morgan Burd, seated with my grandmother, baby Verna Burd, on her lap; daughter Vera, Daniel Ferris Burd, and their son, Robert. Thanks to Aunt Maybelle for her help with my questions. Thanks to my mom for forwarding me this photo.

 


stage four colon cancer survivor

Sharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor who has been NED (“no evidence of disease”) since 2013. She loves coffee, writing, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and that have helped support her personal journey with cancer.

[ More about Sharon ]

Sharon’s Note: As always, information I share about my personal journey with cancer is never intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Only your awesome doctor can do that kind of stuff. I DO intend to share strategies that have given me hope in a hugely hopeless situation. I started using essential oils in Spring 2017. God puts the things we need in our paths at the time we need them and oils have been a game changer for my life as a cancer survivor. You can see different resources I’ve used along the way since 2010 on the What I Did That Helped page.

 

 

psalm 103 forsythia praise yellow green perennials spring flowers

He’s Concerned About You

The local oncology office was quiet last week when I checked in for my pre-scan appointment. I sat and watched rain trickle down the window.

“Sharon?”

There were two other people in the reception area and no one moved. I guess that would be me.

The lab tech smiled and walked me into the room where phlebotomy chairs wait for cancer people to have blood drawn. Her scrub top had a Marvel Comics theme and we talked about the finer points of Marvel vs DC Comics. I asked her what the difference was and she explained with great enthusiasm. I don’t think I can explain it back to you. She cheerfully checked my vitals and asked a few basic questions before another assistant led me down the hallway into an exam room.

“Have your medications changed?”

She showed me a list from 2013 and we updated it to show no medications in 2018.

“Okay! The doctor will be with you shortly.” The door closed quietly.

The oncologist asked a few questions about how I’m feeling (fine).

“Are you breathing okay?” The stethoscope moved methodically across my back and I was told to breathe in. Breathe out. Wait. Shouldn’t I be breathing okay?? I mean, I don’t run marathons, but I don’t need an oxygen mask walking up the hill behind our house, so…

I left the office with lab work completed and instructions to pre-register for my fifth annual CT scan since being NED (no evidence of disease) in 2013.

The visit made me feel stressed and anxious. I struggled to pinpoint the reason.

Why do they seem to *expect* you to be feeling bad physically and then act puzzled when you’re doing pretty decently well?

Why does scheduling an annual CT-scan make me feel like I have PTSD?

Why do I even need to have this scan? Ah. There it is.

My “new normal” body works differently, but it works well. Me and my current inventory of organs get along pretty okay together. What if the test inadvertently causes more problems than it solves from, say, too much radiation? The oncologist even brought that up as a long term concern. What if the scan finds a new problem? Like that stable “benign lung nodule” thing they have brought up the past two years that I never even knew I had in my possession during the entire previous six years?

Maybe I don’t need to know my current status. I feel fine. I’m not even sure I would go through more standard medical treatment if cancer were to return. Let’s leave well enough alone. These are the frantic thoughts in my head one week each year.

Actually I think this way almost every week in the year, but there is only one week when I have to decide how strongly I really feel about the potential ramifications of medical procedures. This is why personal blogs are useful so one can write the words they don’t want to be heard shouting out loud to kind medical professionals doing their jobs.

And who, in the medical world, cares about my cancer-recovery-related concerns?

I left the office determined to eat more plants, juice more carrots, and to earnestly examine my stash of essential oils for ones I know may specifically support my efforts to stay above a particular wellness line.

Well-being – in spite of our physical circumstances – is a conversation that starts inside of us. Me. You.

I’m learning through this continuing process to speak praise from my inmost being to God. HE is the one who satisfies my desires with good things even when I may want to fear the worst. He is always concerned about me in the big frantic obvious things and the little quiet subtle things of life.

Psalm 103:1-5 says,

“Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Read Psalm 103 Here

I’ve been listening to CeCe Winans on Pandora and last week I heard this song for the very first time. God cares enough to send unexpected gifts that minister to us on a very personal level.

God is concerned about me.

God is also concerned about you.

Click the image to play this subtle and beautiful reminder of God’s loving concern:

Lyrics for “He’s Concerned” by CeCe Winans:

God is, just a prayer away
All you need to do is call
He will hear, your faintest cry
He’s concerned about you

So while your tears are flowing through
Your time of mourning
He is here to lift your heavy heart
‘Cause He’s in love with you

He knows
He cares
He sees
He’s there
And He’ll carry you
He’s concerned about you

Weeping may endure for the night

But the morning will bring joy
He won’t give, you more than you can bear
He’s concerned about you

He loves you, oh yes
He loves you, ooooo
He loves you, I know He does, He really does
He’s concerned about you

He knows
He cares
He sees
He’s there
He’ll carry you
He’s concerned about you

He knows
He cares
He sees
He’s there
He’ll carry you
He’s concerned about you


stage four colon cancer survivorSharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor. She loves coffee, writing, playing piano, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and that have helped support her personal journey with cancer.

[ More about Sharon ]

Watching Waves. Listening for Songs.

ocean, fishing, sand, beach, florida, after cancer, encouragement, fishing line, fishing pole, stress, joy, peace, waves

“Life is like the ocean; calm or still. Rough or rigid. In the end, it is always beautiful.” – Unknown

My toes were buried in beach sand Tuesday morning. The Atlantic put on a show and the sun threw rays all over the place despite storm warnings. Tom nodded at a man near a large multi-colored beach umbrella to our right; he and his wife were going for a walk and that nod promised we would watch their belongings.

“It’s like a gift, isn’t it?” I said. “It was supposed to rain and God gave us a beautiful morning to enjoy all of … this.” Tom’s eyes were closed and he murmured in agreement. He’s good that way. Lets me wander verbally and just listens when I get a little sappy. After I finally get to my point he’ll look over and say, “What?”

Another man worked a fishing line. I wondered what kind of fish he would catch. I didn’t really care. I was just glad to be present. Sitting on the edge of the ocean for the third March in a row and thankful to God and the kindness of friends to be able to say so.

A week away from my annual CT scan and reluctant to think so.

A couple wandered by and called out, “New York??”

I’m not sure what gave us away… my white skin slathered in sunscreen, the camera in my hands in between trips to swim in the waves, or Tom’s Mets t-shirt?

“Yes, right, we’re from New York!” I waved towards the water. “It’s great, isn’t it?!”

It was great. Life is great. Normal. Dear God? Thanks for letting anything feel normal. Like seeing a fishing pole set in sand on the ocean shore. Full of potential. Content and quiet in the waiting while waves change color and crash and pull away. There was something healing about just watching that water. Peaceful. Hopeful. Joy-full.

What’s in your forecast? Turmoil? Roaring waves? Listen close and watch the horizon. Don’t miss the songs while you wait out the storm.

“You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” Psalm 65:5-8

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Thank you for stopping by! I’m a stage four colon cancer and cancer treatment survivor. I like to share encouragement and things that have helped me and given me hope on my personal journey. Speaking of things that have helped, you can find a information about “What I Did that Helped” by Clicking Here, and a summary of my personal Cancer Journey Timeline by Clicking Here. Most importantly, you can read about the Only Cure that Matters – just Click Here.

 

Scanxiety Rule #2

Philippians 4:6-7 be anxious for nothing cancer scan pet scan scanxiety

“Wow. There’s a word for it. It’s called ‘Scanxiety’.”

“What?” Tom asked. I was staring at the computer screen. Tom was watching the Waltons and scrolling through Facebook. That’s how we roll on cold winter evenings with a warm fire flickering close by.

“Scanxiety. It’s an actual “thing” to describe how cancer patients may feel about going back for scans after treatment is over, even years later,” I said.

I was feeling a little wounded at the thought of scheduling my annual PET scan. The thoughts went something like this:

1. It’s not about learning whether or not they see any cancer, as much as it is about all that has happened before – a little emotional PTSD after the physical cancer-war armistice.

2. The doctors don’t “get”, or have time to get, my personal journey and all I’ve been through (and all ANY cancer patient and their families have been through, some far more than me). And I suppose it’s not their job to get it. The surgeries, colostomy, ileostomy, take-down, chemo, radiation, and physical after-shocks from medical treatment that still linger in a more muted way; determination to juice when cancer returned and refusal to do exactly what doctors told me until I had peace about my decision on how to proceed; God’s kindness in allowing the second round of treatment + juicing and supplements to show no cancer; fatigue and occasional mental block that I suspect are lingering gifts from medical treatment; a body that has done remarkably well in recovering but that groans and creaks in ways beyond “just being over 40”. And, finally, the mental and emotional exhaustion at the thought of maybe, possibly, having to cope with it all again if the scan shows something I don’t want to know is lurking in my cells.

3. The awareness that all of #2 is a small price to pay for the luxury of living and being in the lives of my family.

4. The realization that #3 is true, followed by an irritation that wonders if the physical and emotional price we deem acceptable is still way too high for cancer survivors to pay from successful – or unsuccessful – standard medical “treatment”. Isn’t there something about “do no harm” in some oath somewhere? Chemo and radiation do great harm on the march to obliterate rebel cells.

5. And finally, the plain selfish truth is that I’ve started… slowly… feeling like I’m not defined by the cancer. Calling to schedule a scan pulls me right back emotionally, mentally, and maybe physically, into still being a cancer patient. Which, I suppose, I still am. Drats.

“So what does ‘scanxiety’ mean?” Tom asked.

“It’s a noun that scanxietymeans the tension which builds, particularly among those who have or have had cancer, as they move towards their regular check up scan – hyper-scanxiety being the period as they await results.” I gave up reading and went into the world of the Waltons for the rest of the evening. And maybe a little Lawrence Welk.

A day or two later I finally called The City and asked if they could schedule my scan Locally. Tom’s advice, after listening to me spout off about my scanxiety, was, let’s schedule it where I feel comfortable. I should be able to get the scan locally and have results sent to the city; if there is a problem, we’d go from there. One piece of the scanxiety puzzle potentially solved – staying close to home. A bit of control in the uncontrollable.

“What is your name please?” the attendant responded when I called The City. I cautiously stated my desire to have the scan close to home. She went on to say, in a nice voice that sounded slightly like she had said this many times before, “You can ask to have the scan done locally; but the doctor here will determine if they will allow that request. If so, they will send the order to the place you want to have the scan. What is the name of that facility?”

I gave her the name of the facility. Three days later we’re still waiting for a response to my request. Clearly, they don’t follow Scanxiety Rule #1: Let’s not not call a cancer survivor back for three days… five by the time we get past the weekend… in response to a stressful scheduling phone call request.

Scanxiety Rule #2:Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

How about you? Do you deal with scanxiety when you have a scan coming up? What helps you most?

PS: This summer I moved the “Sustain Me: Notes on Cancer” blog over to this new site: http://www.cancersmarts.net. So if you’re seeing “Cancer Smarts”, that’s still “me”. Thanks for reading!