My hockey stick is handy but not yet needed

Most days it is dull. Aching, but never overpowering. That was until Monday. These aches in my lower back and my left hip—where I’ve had many a needle sent in to retrieve bone marrow—is the host of my pain that has prompted my return to the healthcare system “for further investigation.”

Truthfully, I have never left, but for nine years it has really been on my terms. Blood tests, phlebotomies to help reduce my ferritin, and check-ups have been driven primarily by me, but a few weeks ago it changed.

A simple phone call from my GP’s office: “The doctor would like to talk with you about your blood work.” I’ve literally had thousands of conversations about my blood work with doctors, but I haven’t had a call from one to request a discussion in almost nine years.

The dull ache in my lower back started in June and it hasn’t gone away. It hasn’t slowed me down; I throw my girls in the air like I always have, tackle my squats at the gym, and stretch the same, but the ache is always there. Slight rises in intensity were normal until Monday when the pain rose sharply for that day only.

Tonight, I had my first CAT scan in a decade. Tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll get the results. Worst case, I’ll have to wait until Friday when I see my GP to get my latest blood results back. Perhaps it’s maturity, or perhaps it’s experience, but I’m ok with this little bit of waiting, for now.

When I was a “one-time” cancer survivor, my fear of relapse was next to non-existent. The moment treatment finished from my second diagnosis and I became a “two-time” cancer survivor, the thought of relapse has occupied a consistent presence in my mind. It rarely dominates the way it once did, and I regularly go weeks without the thought of a third diagnosis I’m not sure I’ve ever gone months.

As the years have gone by, my confidence in my health has grown. The moment I got that call to come in and review my blood work, I felt the fear that I know so well. It is a fear with a blessed twist attached: I first experienced it just over four years ago when Adia was born. For me, being a two-time cancer survivor was easier before I was a dad. The greatest blessings in my life are also connected to one of my greatest fears.

Life is funny like that.

While my fear set in immediately, and I let it be, it didn’t last long. I remember a very substantial shift in my thinking later that evening, and it grew the next day on my way to see my doc. It went to a familiar place, the same place it was 12 years ago at this time. A place full of fight and confidence in my ability to deal with whatever lies ahead.

I’m not breaking out my hockey stick just yet, but it is handy should the need arise. Despite my back pain, and the nagging ache in my abdomen that accompanies it regularly, I feel the best I’ve felt in nine years. Thanks to my very responsive hematologist we are investigating aggressively. Of course, being a cancer survivor puts you at an increased risk of getting cancer.

Whatever the results of our aggressive screening activity I am better armed than ever to step on the ice with cancer. As a veteran, I know how the game is played, my supports are better than ever and my motivation for winning is at an all time high.

Here’s to hoping I stay off this ice for now and always.

Always…
Live life. Love life.

Geoff

Read “Good scare,” the follow up to this post.

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