|Last Chemo on May 20|
Ever since my surgery, I have had Scan Anxiety. I keep hearing the theme song from Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety movie play in my head for the last two weeks. For my younger chevre here is the link to High Anxiety and yes it is an earworm. Fair warning, it is even catchier than Old Town Road and no it is not about getting HIGH either.
I had my last scheduled chemo 2 weeks ago and during those weeks all I could focus on, besides the song, was the next step, the CT scan. That scan would let us know whether the cancer was still present in my body.
My scan Anxiety was at an all time high over the past two weeks. I know many cancer survivors (and I will be part of this group) continue to have CT scans for months, years, and possible decades after their initial diagnoses. I can only imagine how many times those people would have played that song in their head if they had read my blog.
Just change the word high to scan because scan anxiety works.
Well it's the high anxiety
I'm a victim of society, It's my high anxiety
Getting to the best of me, Sometimes I feel like I'm gonna explode
When I'm approaching total overload, I know that when I'm having a panic attack
To duck and cover cuz I can feel it coming, You know I wish that this was over and done
Heart pounds I can feel it escalating, Well it's the high anxiety
While waiting for the phone call from my doctor I was discussing what to write for a positive scan and/or a negative scan, Arthur said, "negative scan? We are only writing the Victory Speech!"
This morning when my phone rang and it was my doctor, the theme song was blasting at full volume. I heard the words “you are in remission and NED, “No evidence of disease”, I cried. Those who know me, may not think this is surprising. I cry when I speak about the Holocaust, I cry when I send my students off to OSRUI for a summer of Jewish camping, and I may have cried once watching “Long Island Medium” with my daughter. The strange part is that through this journey, I have not really cried about having cancer. Anxiety impacts your body in various ways, and perhaps my Scan Anxiety was acting as a gate. But when I heard the words “You are in remission”, the Scan Anxiety gate broke and I cried.
|Me in the wig|
What’s next you may ask? I will be receiving monthly transfusions of Avastin, which is a blood vessel growth inhibitor. I do not expect there to be MANY side effects, but I will not know for sure until my first transfusion after June 10th. I hope my hair will grow back. I cannot say that my Scan Anxiety has disappeared completely, as this disease is notorious for recurring, there will be more CT scans in my future, but for now I can turn High Anxiety down to a 6 or more likely a 7. I will also continue to consult with Sharsheret, the Jewish organization which has provided me with information, a mentor and just kept my head on through this whole process.
If you read the title to this blog post, you should be asking, what is Benching Gomel? What situation would be "serious"?
Birkat Hagomel (pronounced beer-KHAT hah-GOH-mel),” is commonly said after recovering from serious illness, but can also be recited in gratitude for completing a dangerous journey.
This blessing for deliverance is typically recited in the presence of a minyan, or prayer quorum, often in the synagogue following the reading of the Torah.
Birkat Hagomel in Hebrew (courtesy of Sefaria)
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם. הַגּומֵל לְחַיָּבִים טובות. שֶׁגְּמָלַנִי כָּל טוב
Birkat Hagomel in Transliteration and English Translation
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-gomel t’chayavim tovim she-g’malani kol tuv.
Blessed are You, Sovereign of the universe, our God, ruler of the world, who rewards the undeserving with goodness, and who has rewarded me with goodness.
After the recitation of this blessing, the congregation responds:
Mi she-g’malcha kol tuv, hu yi-g’malcha kol tuv selah.
May God who rewarded you with all goodness reward you with all goodness for ever.
My plan is to bench Gomel this weekend. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to reach this day.
For now, my physical road to remission has reached a place where I can take a breath. The work I’m looking to start on now will involve some spiritual healing. Sometimes that can be a longer road, but I know that benching gomel is the first step I want to take.