PET Scan Results Inconclusive: Not the results I was hoping for

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.

Wrapping Round 1, Beginning Round 2 in Kicking Cancer’s Ass

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.

Busy day.

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.”

Tweets for the Week of 03-10-2014

JordanCon VI Panel Schedule

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!

Tweets for the Week of 03-03-2014

Last Round of Chemo Side Effects and Studio Ghibli Marathon

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.

“Beautiful Winter” in Cicada Magazine March/April 2014 Issue

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.

CICADA_MarchApril_2014cvrCICADA_MarchApril 2014_bk

Tweets for the Week of 02-17-2014

Tweets for the Weeks of 01-13-2014 to 02-10-2014

  • RT: @redhead5318 Review of The Book of Apex vol4, via @JustBookReading , stories by @lettie_prell @eugiefoster etc. http://justbookreading.com/2014/02/15/review-the-book-of-apex-volume-4/ … @ApexBookCompany 10:05 AM, 15 Feb 2014
  • First day back to work this chemo cycle. Too. Many. Stairs. *gasp pant wheeze* But am really glad I made it in. #CopingWithCancer 5:31 PM, 14 Feb 2014
  • Light, freezing rain; the icefall begins. Amusing that winter storm staples to Georgians is apparently French toast fixings: bread eggs milk 5:27 AM, 12 Feb 2014
  • Official word from the Speaker’s Office: House offices (and ditto my office) will be closed Wed-Thurs (wait-n-see Fri). #Atlanta #GA 12:22 PM, 11 Feb 2014
  • Just ancd by Governor’s office: state employees living N of I-20 & outside I-285 should leave now. All other employees should leave at noon. 10:39 AM, 11 Feb 2014
  • Can’t seem to shake this fever. Not going in to work tomorrow, either. :( At least we’re avoiding snowmageddon2-2014. #CopingWithCancer 12:39 AM, 11 Feb 2014
  • Had to concede to fever I’ve been battling all weekend, so am not returning to work tomorrow. Dammit. Hoping for Tuesday. #CopingWithCancer 9:07 PM, 9 Feb 2014
  • Took three needle sticks to find a robust enough vein, but chemo round five done! Whew. One more to go. #CopingWithCancer 4:40 PM, 31 Jan 2014
  • RT: @NathanBurgoine My #FridayReads – Bingo book is @eugiefoster’s “Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice” 9:59 AM, 31 Jan 2014
  • Ow. Between chemo sessions and my last hospital stay, seems I’m running out of good vein real estate to be jabbed in. >.< #CopingWithCancer 9:29 AM, 31 Jan 2014
  • Due to snow/ice, chemo appointment yesterday postponed, so heading out to chemo round 5 now. 8:48 AM, 31 Jan 2014
  • Just retrieved abandoned car with @MatthewMFoster. Roads seem to be much better but still patches of ice. Going back under electric blanket. 2:32 PM, 29 Jan 2014
  • Hot soup had & snuggled under electric blanket now. Governor’s office has declared all government offices closed tomorrow. Totes sleeping in 12:37 AM, 29 Jan 2014
  • Abandoned car, walked half mile in snow and ice, and @MatthewMFoster and I are now finally HOME! Brr. *shiver shiver* 10:37 PM, 28 Jan 2014
  • STILL not home yet. Little over five miles yet to go, will probably take over an hour, and roads are definitely getting icy. O.o 6:23 PM, 28 Jan 2014
  • Now with @MatthewMFoster on gridlock 400N making our way home from North Springs MARTA station. Gah. 3:02 PM, 28 Jan 2014
  • Then herded us back to train station to catch single track line. Incredibly packed train. (Do not think counts as avoiding crowds.) 3:00 PM, 28 Jan 2014
  • First MARTA sent us to take a bus to next station so spent twenty minutes in snow waiting for bus that never came… 2:59 PM, 28 Jan 2014
  • Snow in Atlanta. Office closed early. Gridlock traffic so decided to take MARTA train home. Aand…was a fire on the northbound line. 2:57 PM, 28 Jan 2014
  • 1st chemo-affected legislative session workweek accomplished. Exhausted but feeling productive. Now for weekend on couch! #CopingWithCancer 6:03 PM, 24 Jan 2014
  • 1st day back to work after 4th chemo round kicked my ass but also big sense of accomplishment. Home now. I flop on couch. #CopingWithCancer 7:36 PM, 21 Jan 2014
  • Last labs showed my white blood counts have rebounded, cultures still clean. I’m being discharged! Woohoo, going home! #CopingWithCancer 2:25 PM, 19 Jan 2014
  • Voting ends tomorrow for Apex’s 2013 Best Story Reader Poll.Go vote! (Psst “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” is on it) http://www.apexbookcompany.com/2014/01/apex-magazine-2013-story-of-the-year-readers-poll/12:05 PM, 19 Jan 2014
  • Have seen doctor. Chest x-rays clean, cultures not growing, could be virus. More tests ordered. Remaining in Emory. Sigh. #CopingWithCancer 1:14 PM, 18 Jan 2014
  • Still have low-grade fever. Still haven’t seen physician team. On antibiotic drip. Chest X-rays ordered, though. #CopingWithCancer 10:58 AM, 18 Jan 2014
  • So my doctor’s decided to admit me to the hospital. Sigh. #CopingWithCancer 4:59 PM, 17 Jan 2014
  • Playing fever yo-yo, spiked up again. Heading to hospital now with @MatthewMFoster for labwork. #CopingWithCancer 1:40 PM, 17 Jan 2014
  • Yay and whew. I have been delivered a health release from the onus of jury duty! #CopingWithCancer 8:46 AM, 17 Jan 2014
  • Fever is dropping. Still have to keep an eye on symptoms but looks like no ER visit tonight. Whew. #CopingWithCancer 5:16 PM, 16 Jan 2014
  • Spiked a fever. Trying to avoid an ER visit so I’m taking one Tylenol to see if fever drops or continues to rise. Ugh. #CopingWithCancer 4:13 PM, 16 Jan 2014
  • First Day 1of the Georgia Legislative Session in 7 years of working for the GGA that I have to miss and stay home. Waah! #CopingWithCancer 8:23 AM, 13 Jan 2014