#2. PET Scan Update: Warning: Contains Fantastic News

Holy shit guys, I am so overwhelmed with love. When I woke up today and saw that I’ve had over 1,000 views on my website and first blog post, my jaw hit the floor. I wasn’t prepared for it to spread so fast. I got so many beautiful messages from strangers and loved ones full of support and love. Thank you guys a million times over! I’ve been so emotional and happy all day that I haven’t stopped crying. Then I read the text messages and messages you guys have sent over my blog and cry more.

If you read my last blog post, then you know that I had a fate-determining PET scan recently. I’ve had 4 cycles of chemotherapy. The scan was done to see if I still had cancer in my body. Ideally, all the cancer would be gone and I would have two more cycles of chemo to further kick the cancer cells’ asses, then I’d be in remission.

PET stands for positron emission tomography. This scans sole purpose is to determine the presence of diseases in a body. An hour before the scan, a health professional injects the patient with a radioactive dye. There is a waiting period of an hour to allow the dye to travel throughout the body and reach all organs and what we call “hot spots” which are areas where diseased cells are present. I’ve had 3 PET scans, so I’m basically 1/3 Spiderman…

The test results present themselves as negative or positive. It’s kind of like an opposite day or a drug test. Negative is a good thing- means there’s no sign of disease. Positive is a bad thing- it means there are signs of disease.

The day before the scan, I hadn’t slept. I was so anxious about this test- after all, last time we had this scan, the cancer was supposed to be gone, but it wasn’t. I remained pretty hopeful though, my body wasn’t sending me any warning signals. I felt like shit but wasn’t experiencing any cancer symptoms, just chemotherapy symptoms.

The day of the scan, (January 14th) my father picked me up from my home in Lakewood and we drove to Seidman Cancer Center. I know basically everyone who works there, so every time its kind of like that shitty weird scene from Spiderman 3 where Toby Maguire walks down the street to “Staying Alive”, shooting everyone finger guns.

The dye is kept in a weird titanium syringe. Its pretty cool but also, like, should you be putting this in my body?

I had the scan, went home and awaited my fate. I asked Dr. B to call me as soon as she saw the scan. We have an appointment scheduled for this Thursday, but I knew I’d go bat-shit waiting until Thursday for results. She said she’d call me the next day, January 15th.

My dad went back home to Erie, Pa. He called later that evening and we chatted about potentially getting some good news, finally.

I still hadn’t slept, though. I was anxious. I laid in bed all day with the lights off, ate an edible, and binge-watched the new show on Netflix called “You”. I freaking love that show. Ugh, I wish Penn Badgley would kidnap me… Plus I’m a bookseller that works in a book shop. We’d have a ton in common to talk about. I’d let Penn stalk me…

ANYWAY, that evening my friend Aaron came by to drop some stuff off for me and chilled and talked with me in my bed for a while. He left, I finally fell asleep.

The next morning, I woke up around 10:45 am and checked my phone for a call from my doctor. No call, so I put my phone on my chest and went back to sleep. I decided staying awake would make me too anxious and I’d obsess over checking my phone, so I went back to sleep. Not to mention I hadn’t properly slept in almost two days.

Around 1 pm, my phone rings on my chest and I answer as fast as my half-asleep self will let me. It’s Dr B. and she says she read my scan and guess what… IT’S NEGATIVE!

You’d think I got out of bed and did a jig and a “woo-hoo” or a cartwheel. But instead I texted my dad: “cancer is gone” and fell back asleep. My body wouldn’t let me celebrate.

I slept for a few more hours and when I woke up I thought, Hannah, you fool, you’re sleeping through the best day you’ve had in a while. Then it hit me: I’m cancer-free. Yeah, sure, chemo isn’t over and cancer isn’t over. But it hit me like a ton of bricks. No, a ton of bricks would hurt. It hit me like a ton of marshmallows and sunshine. Then I started ugly crying. Ugly crying tears of joy. Like, hysterical, snotting tears. Then I went downstairs and ugly cried with my roommate, Emily.

Turns out, Emily was making homemade chicken noodle soup AND grilled cheese. All that was missing was a soda on the side. We decided to celebrate over dinner and game night. I cried into my chicken noodle soup. My roommates call me the “salt queen” cause I like salty foods. It’s only fitting that a few tears ended up in my soup.

My roommate Bri and her boyfriend, Alex came over along with Alex’s friend, Eagle Son, and I invited my close friend Aaron over. We laughed and I cried more- all day, actually. I kept getting such nice messages from you all and every time I cried. We played Uno and this hilarious game called What Do You Meme. Its basically like Cards Against Humanity, but with memes. 10/10 recommend.

We realized we had champagne left over from a Friendsgiving party we had- we host one for our close friends every year. I’m not supposed to drink but I poured a splash into a fancy glass and we cheers’ed to my health.

We had a blast, listened to music, laughed so hard, I cried more, and we collectively decided that my new nickname and future rap name is Queen Sloopy. Look out, Cardi.

I have fought tooth and nail since September to get better. I’ve been incapacitated, I’ve cried enough tears to fill the fucking Atlantic ocean, I’ve had enough chemo and drugs to kill a 300-pound grown man. I’ve been angry, thrown and destroyed things, almost hit a nurse with a shoe (sorry, girlfriend… you were in the wrong place at the wrong time) screamed at the top of my lungs, been depressed and hibernated for days and even weeks at a time. I’ve isolated myself. I’ve shaken my fists at the sky and asked “why me” a lot.

But somehow I’ve made it to this point. It all boils down to a simple test. A test that determines my fate. I finally got a break. I finally got some good news. I called my dad and we cried tears of joy. I cried with my roommates. I texted and called members of my support group. WE needed good news. We all did. We deserve it after the shit we’ve all been through.

So I write this update with utter bliss, and I am very pleased to be able to tell you that the end is in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel has finally appeared.

I have two more cycles of chemo, which I am not looking forward to. I’ll be back in the hospital this Friday, the 18th for my next cycle. But this time it’s different. I’ll arrive with my clothes and my game of scrabble and my edibles and a huge, goofy-ass smile on my face. I’ll walk into hell happy. Because I know that I’m closer to finishing treatment.

Weekend hospital stays suck, but we make them fun. Come visit if you’re in the area! I’ll have to be a terrible host, and can offer you only ginger ale. The hospital must order it by the pallet. But I encourage you to BYOB, enjoy for me, play a game or two of scrabble, or bring whatever game you like.

I have a second-wind. Except this time the meaning is different. I usually associate second-wind with partying. You party people know what I mean. This second-wind will see me through the end of treatment.

I plan to slowly transition back into my life after treatment. I’ve lost almost all of my muscle mass but I’ve begun physical therapy. I’ve had to do a lot of laying around so I’ve turned into a limp noodle. I’ve gained a lot of weight from the high doses of steroids and inactivity.

My hair will take a few months to grow back after treatment. I have to return to work soon after treatment, I’m running out of money. But luckily, I have very kind and understanding bosses that will welcome me back with open arms. Although I’d like to travel the world for a few months and regain my identity or “find myself” or some shit, I’ll have to slowly transition into working again.

I’m incredibly excited to get my life back, my body back, my mind back. The rest of my life will be dramatically different. I’ve always stayed in pretty good shape, but I’ll basically have to be like a work out Instagram model for the rest of my life. Def cool with me. I’ll have to work out pretty much everyday, eat clean, go to the doctor often. My chance for secondary cancers is very high, so I gotta make sure that shit don’t come back.

I’ve had a ton of time to think. One major thing that has been on my mind: What is life without cancer like? Yeah, I know its only been five months. But I decided that my life will change. I have new career goals, family goals, life goals, hair goals. I MISS MY HAIR. I’m all face now. Oh, a very generous friend dyed my hair pink before I recently lost the rest of it.

But now, I’m basically Mr. Clean’s equally bald, young bride.

I have a new-found strength. So I have decided to share this photo with you. This is a photo of me in the throws of treatment during my last cycle. Sleep-deprived, sick, half-dead and bloated. It was difficult deciding to share this photo with you, I usually don’t let folks see me like this. But my new-found strength wouldn’t let me be scared to share this. I’ve decided I will recreate this selfie this weekend during treatment, but this time, I’ll have a smile on my face.

Thank you guys for reading. I love you. More soon, stay tuned.

xoxo

Hannah

17 thoughts on “#2. PET Scan Update: Warning: Contains Fantastic News

  1. Hey there Hannah! I don’t know you but i am very happy for you just the same. My mother and sister went through the same with different results. I hope everything works fine for you, you seem to have a great personality and that helps a lot going through what you’re experiencing right now. My sister tells me that you never get rid of cancer, even if you’re cured, it will be part of you always, so i wish you all the best and hope you get to be a mom someday. Something tells me you’d be great at that!

    Happy thoughts,

    Santiago Roque.

    PS – Your hair looks fantastic, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhh thanks for the kind words!! You are so incredibly sweet.
      Hodgkin Lymphoma is one of very few curable cancers. After five years of remission, I’m completely cured. But cancer will be a part of my life forever, you’re right. It won’t define me, but will make me stronger and resllient.
      All the luck to your mother and sister, I hope they are doing as well as they can. It’s very a difficult thing to go through.
      Thanks again, Santiago. I appreciate you!

      Hannah

      P.S. once my hair grows back it’s getting dyed back to pink 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Came across your journey and as an almost 23 year old woman myself I can’t imagine how difficult this would be, but girl you are clearly spunky, hilarious as hell, and strong as fuck. It’s also clear that you have an amazing support system of friends, and that’s something to be grateful for no matter what place in life we are in. I hope to have that kind of support one day. You are an amazing writer and story teller, it’s very clear from your posts, and I just wanted to say you’re fucking awesome and I’m so happy for you that the cancer is now gone! Love that you work in a book store too, I’m a book maniac and have worked in libraries and love reading! You are beautiful, bright, and bitchin’, haha. Continue taking on life like you are, you’re rocking it. So so so happy for you! I’ve requested to follow you on IG to keep up with your journey and hopefully see ya livin the good life and smiling a ton. You’re inspiration dude rock on✊✊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are the freaking sweetest. I’m so glad you like my blog! Your support and kind words mean so much to me, can’t wait to be insta friends.

      Lots of love ❤️

      I am also a book maniac 😘

      Like

  3. Hannah, this is great news. I am so happy for you and your dad. You have made my day with this post. I told you that you would beat this, (have I ever lied to you?) Stay strong and keep fighting. Best luck for your final treatments.
    Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hannah, words can’t describe how happy I am for you, and you live a life full of joy and all the things that you had to wait on the last couple months, I do in home daycare and one of my little guys just found out he has leukemia also, he’s 2 I’ve watched him since he was six weeks, his journey is just beginning and I pray that his outcome is just like yours! I read your blog and cried the whole way through it, your a fighter survivor that kicked cancers ass!! I don’t know you but what I see is one strong,tuff,vibrant, beautiful young girl, good luck to you on this new life of being cured god bless!!! And your hair looks great btw!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Natalie! That little boy is in my thoughts, sending healing vibes his way. I’m so happy that you read my blog. You are so sweet! Good luck to you as well ❤️❤️❤️

      Like

  5. Love your writings Hannah! I dont read often but its captivating, really! So happy to hear about your GOOD news!!!! Youre a strong soul. Continued prayers & love from all of us! Oxoxo. Love, Amy, Matt & Abby

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Amy. I’m getting close to the end! Love you guys so much

      Like

  6. So, so, so happy that you are kicking cancers butt girl ! You are such a strong, intelligent, beautiful young woman….wish nothing but the best for you…. Don’t forget you have that strong Barlow heart… We love you here in Illinois !!!!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pam! Miss you guys. Had fun with you last summer. Love you guys!! Proud to be part Barlow!

      Like

  7. Hi Hannah! I’m Bri’s Aunt Mary. I met you at the AL football game back in the fall. I think it was around the time when you were diagnosed. I read your first blog and your exciting news about your clean PET. Congratulations! You have a talent for writing! Thank you for sharing! Working in oncology, I know how hard the treatments are and the toll they take on you. You are one tough cookie! I have been witness to those that have been cured from HL. The best is when our pts come back years later to say hey! We even had one of our female pts who was told that she would not be able to have any more children come in with her surprise miracle baby.
    I’m so happy you have friends and family to help you through this fight! Will keep you in my thought and prayers. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mary. Wow, thanks for the support!
      Thanks for sharing your side of what oncology is like. I have amazing nurses and doctors at UH and I’m sure you’re an amazing nurse yourself! Your story about the woman who was told she couldn’t conceive had a miracle baby made me tear up! Hugs right back to you ❤️

      Like

  8. Hi Hannah, I’m Emily’s grandma Peggy. I’m so happy for your great news. Two more chemos and you will be done, yah!!! Hang in there, sweetie, the end of fear, sad tears, being mad, scans, blood work, chemo…. is almost here. Your stronger now!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to hear from you, Peggy! Thank you for the support, lots of love to you.

      Like

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