What I had hoped to be a simple process of getting cleared to fly again, has met another speed bump on this road called life. After being declared cancer free by my oncologist, the FAA wasn’t completely convinced, and wanted an MRI of my brain since it was the only part of me that hadn’t been scanned.
Not anticpating any issues, I didn’t have a problem with complying to their request. What should have been a ‘no issue’ scan, came back with a spot that the radiologist said in his report that ‘cancer couldn’t be ruled out by this scan because of my history of breast cancer’. Although the rest of me is cancer free and this would have been an incidental finding for anyone else, it raised the eyebrows of the FAA.
After a conversation my doctor had with a neuroradiologist, they did not believe it to be cancer and no further imaging would be of benefit. The FAA said they wanted to do a full review of my case. I had to get all of my images together while the doctor had to do a report for them. Everything was submitted for their review. I was told it would be a minimum of 6-8 weeks before I’d hear anything.
So, I wait some more to find out if I’ll get cleared to fly again or not. It’s already been 3 weeks, and yes, I’m marking the weeks off on a calendar at work.
I did some research in the meantime about the FAA and breast cancer. I wish I had known this before I had the brain MRI now. It turns out if they don’t find cancer in your lymph nodes, then there’s no reason for them to check your brain for possible cancer. My lymph nodes where negative for cancer. So, I didn’t really need to have the MRI. I guess that’s kind of the way life goes sometimes.
Based on conversations with multiple physicians, I don’t believe there’s a reason to worry that I have cancer in my brain. They describe the finding as a meningioma. Someone told me it’s like a mole is to the skin and they grow very slowly. Unfortunately, they are called a tumor, they just aren’t usually a cause for treatment or concern.
Like I’ve said on more than one occasion, it appears that I’m going to have to prove how much I really want to fly since I keep having obstacles pop-up to block my path. I don’t really want to believe that the FAA will tell me that I can’t fly again, but reality is that I may have to deal with a ‘not now’ response, and that could cause a much longer delay in getting to fly again. It makes me extremely sad to think about, but I try to be hopeful and cling to possibilities.
I’ve spent a lot more time photographing air shows this year to stay connected to flying. While it’s not the same, I have found a love for photographing vintage aircraft that I never knew I had inside of me. There’s something marvelous about the rich history and beautiful character each plane exhibits. Each a memory of struggles, triumphs, challenges and scars. It’s filled a place in my heart that was feeling extremely empty with the loss of flying.
I’ll keep you posted on the outcome. I figure 6-8 weeks is probably a conservative time frame, but I’m hopeful to hear something before the holidays are upon us. How marvelous it would be to flying again by December!