My oncologist called with my PET scan results. Inconclusive. As we knew already, the tumor has shrunk. It’s down to 2cm (from 7cm, what the October PET scan showed), but most of that is dead scar tissue. However, the scan showed a couple “lights,” spots of living cells. Whether those lights are malignant cancer cells or harmless non-cancerous cells is unknown.
So we need to biopsy them. My oncologist is in the process of setting that up. Not sure what sort of biopsy that will end up being, but “least invasive” was the catchphrase.
If the biopsy turns up clean, we’ll continue with radiation. If it doesn’t, it means more chemo, possibly a stem cell transplant procedure, or both. We didn’t go into details. Apparently, the radiation isn’t to kill any last remaining cancer cells but to do some other sort of mop up only after all the other tests show zero cancer cells.
Inconclusive. Unknown. If.
Finding out you have cancer is like having the walls of your house suddenly come caving in on you, the foundation of stability and security you took for granted becoming just so much detritus. And the requisite uncertainty and waiting that seems to be an obligatory part of having cancer is like someone tossing bucketloads of granite and cement on top of it all while you’re trying to dig your way out. Yeah. We hates it we do.
I’m trying really hard to be optimistic, or at least hold off my meltdown until after the biopsy results. But it feels like I was just beginning to get my life back, just starting to find my footing as something other than “cancer patient.” And the prospect of having to go through it all over again makes me want to kick my feet, howl, and sob.
Still can’t manage to make the stairs all the way to my office in one go without getting winded and having to rest. And the muscles in my legs are sore from a brief afternoon excursion on Saturday with Matthew to run some errands–nothing more arduous than walking up and down some aisles and waiting in line. I suppose it’s a good sign that I’m so impatient with the speed of my recovery. But that doesn’t help the impatience.
Tomorrow I go in to Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute for an early morning PET scan to see what the status is of my tumor, followed by labwork, my fourth and final lumbar puncture chemo infusion, and an appointment with my oncologist to discuss next steps–notably the timing for my radiation treatments.
I haven’t seen a scan since the first CT showed the 6cm tumor in my sinuses. My oncologist thinks it’s very likely that six rounds of chemo got all the cancer cells, but I can still feel a minor swelling in the right side of the roof of my mouth. It’s invisible to the naked eye, so much smaller than it was last October, negligible even. And my doctor says it’s most likely scar tissue, dead cells, not the remnants of a still-kicking tumor biding its time and waiting to start this whole nightmare over again. But I want to see proof of that on the screen.
And even if it’s not completely gone, I know Round 2: Radiation will likely stomp out the last malingering cancer cells. But I’d feel so much better if the radiation could be “just in case” versus “we need to do this ’cause it ain’t dead yet.”
I got my preliminary JordanCon schedule today! Looks to be a fabulous and fun lineup:
- “Flawed Worlds in Fantasy” – Real societies have problems, so should the ones we create. But how do we address race, sex, and class when writing? With Delilah S. Dawson, Patrick Rothfuss, Jana Oliver, Balogun Ojetade, and Eugie Foster. Sat (4/12) 10AM.
- “More Than Just Prose” – Our favorite books are more than just paragraphs strung together. From poetry to songs to hidden word play, what goes into doing it right? With Patrick Rothfuss, Eugie Foster, and Harriet McDougal. Sat (4/12) 11:30AM.
- “How to Polish” – What tools, tips, and tricks are there to taking that first draft up to a final? With Eugie Foster, Idaliz Seymour, Paul Stevens, Toni Weisskopf, Deb Dixon, and Peter Ahlstrom. Sat (4/12) 2:30PM.
- “Fairy Tale Hour” – A look at Fairy Tales in literature, TV, and film. With Jana Oliver, Eugie Foster, and Pat Rothfuss. Sun (4/13) 11:30AM.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this local literary convention is one of my very favorites. It’s amazingly well run, with awesome programming, and a great venue. This year, it’ll be on April 11 through 13. I hope to see folks there!
This last round of chemo has been a rough one. Every single side effect I’ve had to wrestle with over the course of my treatment–nausea, deep muscle and bone aches and pain, fever spikes, peripheral neuropathy, fatigue, anemia, hand-foot syndrome–has flared up, as though to usher in one last reunion tour. I keep telling myself I just have to endure a few more days and I’ll be on the upswing but when I’m feverish, queasy, and hurting everywhere, it’s hard to think beyond the “now,” and the now sucks.
To take my mind off how sick I’m feeling, Matthew and I are having a Studio Ghibli marathon. Yesterday we watched Tales from Earthsea, The Cat Returns, and My Neighbor Totoro, all movies I somehow hadn’t managed to see before. Earthsea started out really promisingly but fell apart storywise about halfway through, but the other two were absolutely charming. We’ll continue the marathon with Ponyo today.
Received today, my contrib. copies of the March/April 2014 issue of Cicada with my short story “Beautiful Winter” in it with beautiful illustrations by Forest Strawn-Wing.
I’m thrilled to be appearing once again in Cicada, as this magazine holds a special place in my heart–being my very first fiction sale and publication with “The Adventures of Manny the Mailmobile” in their Jan/Feb. 2002 issue.