"Elissa, hi, this is Dr. Gordon. Just wanted to let you know that everything looked great on the scan. Nothing abnormal, actually, so I think you're where we want you to be. You can give me a call anytime. Talk to you later, bye."
This message and a subsequently returned call to Dr. Gordon a few minutes later (two days before I was expecting results; what a mensch!) confirmed the best scan results possible. No activity on the PET scan and nothing on the CT except for some scar tissue in the location of the original tumor in my chest that started it all. No measurable cancer. My scans were clear.
It took me a couple of hours to move from the spot where I heard the message, returned the doctor's call, and took a couple of minutes to cry tears of relief, joy, and a blend of other emotions.
Having been elated by good news so many times, only to be crushed by the bad, it's hard not to scan the situation for all possibilities. But all here are positive. At a minimum, this sanctions my return to DC and buys me three months until my next set of scans. At the most, this is the beginning of a future clear of this burden, this hurdle, this medical, emotional and personal education that I didn't ask for but got anyway. A future full of choices and opportunities and the full range of human experiences that I'm destined to have. A future.
Since 100 days is a significant milestone after a transplant, (risk of acute Graft Versus Host Disease decreases, some medications can be adjusted, etc.) I will likely plan to return to Washington shortly after, in early September, with monthly visits to my doctor here in Chicago for awhile.
While I know that healing from a transplant is an involved year-long process and that I will not be proclaimed cured until I have five years of clean scans, I am hopeful those five years begin today. I am hopeful that the transition from being a person with cancer, to a person who had cancer, begins today. I am hopeful that I get to start writing a new chapter, beginning today.