Improving news

My medical oncologist is back from vacation and called this morning to update and prepare me for radiation and chemo treatment. She has the results from the PET scan and is very happy to see no other metastatic spread other than to the liver. Great news from the liver too. The PET scan shows definitively that the cancer is just a few lesions and only on one lobe. Thats a good thing. She is sending me to a consult with a surgeon right away so they can determine just how likely it is that a good sharp knife will be useful, and when.

In the meantime we will be starting radiation and chemo. The chemicals will be in the form of pills for now. That’s all that is needed to enhance the effects of the radiation. The IV chemo will come later, maybe, once we see the results of radiation. There is a possibility we could go directly to surgery and not use the heavy chemo at all this time around.

So the radiation planning is done and the chemo prescription will be ready Thursday. We will get started soon.

I talked to her about pain as well. She was happy with what my GP has been doing but agreed to refer me to a pain specialist anyway just for my peace of mind. The great thing about that is she said it might take 4 weeks or more to get in to see the pain guy and, if the radiation & chemo work, I might be out of pain by then. But I can always cancel the appointment. Could it really be true? I thought pain was just my new normal.

I have been thinking about luck. One of my pet peeves has always been those survivors of car & plane crashes and other disasters who say how lucky they are. I want to scream at them, “how can you feel LUCKY to have been in a freaking accident?” I’ve always thought of them as less unlucky than those who didn’t survive, but lucky? Hells no!

Well I have a stage 4 cancer that has metastasised and should be fatal. It turns out to be an extremely unusual cancer with metastases limited to a few lesions on ONE lobe of my liver (the ONLY organ we have that regenerates if you cut it in half.). I’m feeling pretty damn lucky.


Official Diagnoses

I have received a couple of Diagnoses records from the oncologists to attach to an application for Canada Pension Plan. They are kind of a gloomy read but if you feel the need to read I’ll be happy to share. I’m not sure I want to just post those online but if anyone wants a copy I’ll email it to you. Just message me your email address and ask.

PET scan done

Any medical procedure that involves a nap is a good one in my book. This latest one involved two!

By way of education, the PET scan is very much like a CT scan except that they inject you with a radioactive sugar solution. Now, every cell in the human body absorbs sugar through our blood. Its how we run; how each cell is fuelled to do whatever it is they do.

The cancer cell, however, is a greedy little bastard that absorbs more than its share of the sugar. That kind of figures, doesn’t it? If cancer was a person he would be that “gimme this” and “gimme that” prick who everybody hates because he can’t think of anyone but himself. A real waste of space.

The day starts with nothing to eat for 6 hours but keep hydrated so you can piss out the scary concoction they are going to pump into your veins. Then they stick in a catheter and pump in a quarter cup of saline for good measure. Take a ten minute nap at this point.

Then they take advantage of cancer’s greed by feeding everybody the radioactive sugar for 45 minutes while I get wrapped in a warm blanket for nap number two. Cancer pigs out on the stuff and then, when they do the scan, the little gluttons glow like LED lights. Even the smallest cancer cell will be visible in the scan.

If you can lay perfectly still for 20 minutes holding your arms over your head while they scoot you back and forth through a small culvert that hums like its under a freeway (I’m glad to say, I can), then the whole procedure is over in three trips through the machine.

So now they have dayglo pictures of everything between my pelvis and my eyebrows so they can play count the cancer cells. Lets hope its a short game.

Finally, Bill, this one is for you. The technician told me a patient once brought his dog with him, thinking they needed to scan his PET.

Radiation tests

Just got home from the CT for planning the radiation treatment. Well, not really, but I did just wake up from the nap I had a soon as I got home.

The process took much longer than it should have because, instead of telling me I needed to have a full bladder, they just told me to bring a water bottle. Then told me 20 minutes before the test to drink 500ml of water. I could have told them it takes a LOT longer than that for any drinking to affect my bladder. Even after another liter of water and 45 minutes later, they said my bladder was still not full enough. Eventually they got what they needed though and they left 3 little tattoos to guide future explorers.

Now we wait again for assessment of the data they got and planning of the treatments themselves.

I did get to talk to Dr. Rose (radiation oncologist) about the tests last week though. Do you want the good news first or the bad news last? OK then, the CT scan on Friday showed only two small lymph nodes on my lungs, which are not unusual and probably entirely unrelated to the cancer. The ultrasound on the liver, however, showed “several” lesions that might be related and the largest is about 3cm (a month ago they said 2cm). The difference in size might be from more accurate measuring rather than growth of the lesion. They still need the opinion of a surgeon.

And the BEST news! I am assured that during and after the treatments, I will be able to play the piano. I’ve always wanted to be able to play the piano.