Behind the Smile: SCANxiety

Hi friends! So I’m going to try and make this a quick blog post because I have to get up early for ANOTHER test in the morning. More on that later. There will be grammatical errors and typos in this blog post- please feel free to message me and I’ll fix them when I have time 🙂

Anyway, I have 104 new text messages …..and most of them want to know the same thing….”what’s the deal with the PET Scan?!” (If i haven’t answered you yet I will eventually, and I love getting texts and messages, so please don’t think it’s annoying- it isn’t!). When I get messages like the one below, I’m so humbled and amazed. Thank you.

Since quite a few people reading this blog aren’t up to date via my public instagram, I’ll start from the beginning with the abbreviated version (btw, my public instagram is @HollyHollisStars if you’d like to get quicker updates!)

So, what feels like 15 days ago (aka yesterday), I went to the doctor to get a PET/CT scan and a CT scan of my liver/abdomen. My good friend Jamie came with me to the scans….bless his heart for putting up with me all of these years. Of course Mark offered to come with me, but I didn’t want him to have to miss work, especially if I needed him to be with me after surgery, etc. (Please let me know if you don’t see two videos below….the blog will certainly be confusing without them!)

With a PET scan, they inject you with radioactive sugar, let you marinate about an hour, then you lay in a tube with your arms above your head and they run the test. The cancer clings to the sugar solution and that’s what “lights up” on a scan. Obviously you don’t want anything “lighting up”, ideally. As usual, getting an IV in my tricked out veins was a challenge. I looked at the first guy that walked the room in and said “buddy, you drew the short straw today…..IV’s are a problem for me.” After quite a few tears, two nurses, and 4 traumatizing attempts later….they placed the IV in my hand. I’m not kidding…..this is just one spot where they tried to get the IV in (see below). (I’m also not blaming anyone……this is always an issue with me….”it’s not you, it’s me” probably applies here). (Shout out to my glorious friend Elizabeth for the copper bracelet and the Stars bracelet.) I have such amazing friends 🙂

(Picture above…..two of the most amazing and supportive women I know….Elizabeth and Wendy). They planned a special night out before I left for my scans. Love them so much.

Back to the needle issue, when I look at my arms tonight all I keep thinking is “how in the WOLRD does anyone do drugs that involve needles?” I mean really, needles are so unpleasant. But I digress. To make up for the trauma, the tech asked “what kind of music would you like during your scan….we have Jazz, Classical,……” I interrupted him and said “actually, could you play Lizzo? The louder the better.” Shockingly he did (loudly) and I had a hard time not singing along during the scan. They don’t let anyone come back with you anymore during PET scans because of the whole “radioactive” issue. But Jamie was waiting for me when I was done. He gets the friend MVP award for sure.

After the scans were over and after finishing my work yesterday……the SCANxiety hit. Ohhhhh boy!! I know most of the time you see me smiling, and I usually am…..but I feel like I wouldn’t be authentic if I didn’t address SCANxiety. Anyone dealing with cancer will face this at some point (google it). People always ask me “how do you stay so positive?”. Well, I think you can be positive, but still be afraid sometimes. I just try to view SCANxiety as a natural part of the process, pray……and keep myself busy. I remind myself that God is in control of my healing and my story. God is in control of how long my life will be….but I’m going to do EVERYTHING in my power to be here as long as I can. I just repeat that to myself and again, I stay as busy as I can. To help cope with the huge lump in my throat…..last night after work I went to dinner, indulged in a little retail therapy, talked to my friend Elizabeth, FaceTimed with my husband…and watched Gossip Girl (I now have a very clear explanation of why I wore so many headbands in 2008).

So today i woke up and tried to carry on as normal. I worked in the morning, took a few conference calls, worked out at lunch (listening to Lizzo, obvi), then the time finally came to go get my results from my oncologist. (Video below)

Of course I tried to get answers early from the nurses but they aren’t allowed to tell you anything without the doctor present (understandable). The doctor came in and told me that the areas that were common for a reoccurrence were clear (thank you LORD). So my liver, spine, lungs, bones….all off that looked good. BUT……there was one area that did light up (my heart sank when I heard that). Here’s the part I didn’t have time to explain in the video (below).

The doctor explained that an area near my trachea “took up” some of the solution. They measure the “uptake” of the (radioactive sugar) solution and use that to gauge how active the cancer is. Typically TNBC’s “uptake” is aggressive…..and this uptake number was only around a 1.7 or 1.8….so, it’s possible that there is an infection making the PET light up in that area. (I had a bad sinus infection/cough for weeks last month). So, to be safe, I’m getting a CT scan with contrast of that area tomorrow morning. “Contrast” means I’ll need another IV…….grrrrrrrreat 😉 My doctor explained that they will repeat the same test I’m having tomorrow in 3 months just to keep an eye on it. The good news is…..the area that lit up on the scan is not a common area of reoccurrence (for what I have). So, are we 100% sure that it isn’t cancer? No, you never can be….but it doesn’t seem very likely that it is. THANK. YOU. LORD. (It dawned on me tonight I didn’t hear about the results from my liver scan- I assume no news is good news, but I will follow up with them tomorrow to make sure.)

So, as of now, I’m still on schedule to have breast reconstruction surgery on Thursday! What do breast implants look like? Glad you asked……I had a pre-op appointment this past Friday and took the opportunity to snap a very mature picture next to a giant implant while I was waiting. (No, I’m not getting an “upgrade”……I just want to look like me….nothing more, nothing less) 😉

Last time Mark came with me to my plastic surgeon he was cradling the implant next to his cheek…..I wish I could find that picture. It’s a gem. Again, we’re so mature 😉

It’s getting late so I need to wrap it up….but one more thing… when I left the doctor’s office today I noticed this on the wall and wanted to share it.

For the picture above… explanation needed. You have to do YOUR part to stay healthy. If you’re reading this and you don’t workout…..please start….for me :). If you’re reading this and you smoke? Good LORD almighty, please quit. Seriously. QUIT. I had to renew my insurance benefits last week and there are different RATES if you smoke cigarettes. Need I say more? There are so many people FIGHTING to be alive… just feels wrong when I see someone willingly smoking a cigarette. I’m not saying you’re a bad person if you smoke, but you are making REAL bad choice. There’s no way to sugar coat it. I’m certain there are one million resources online to help with the smoking issue. (End of smoking soap-box). With that in mind, let’s be happy, healthy, and make good choices, shall we? 🙂

I’m considering today’s news a WIN and a step in the right direction. Keep those prayers coming please. I’m so appreciative.


-Holly Hollis Stars-

6 thoughts on “Behind the Smile: SCANxiety

  1. You know we got your back here Holly. Prayers going up in your name from Sea to shining Sea and beyond. Have a couple of dozen Warriors across the Big Pond Praying as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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