Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Negative

I’ll cut to the chase. I spoke to my chemo doctor a few minutes ago. The results from yesterday’s CT with contrast scan were “negative, but complicated.” They were “negative” for any definite signs of cancer; that’s great news! The assessment is “complicated” by the many areas on the scans which are abnormal, but can probably be accounted for by the past surgeries and radiation. My doctor is going to contact the radiologist one more time today to confirm his initial finding and ask him to look closer at that area where there is small new lump on my face. I’ll talk to him again later this week. It doesn’t mean I’m cured, there is still the possibility of micro cancer cells that will eventually be detectable, but I could not have gotten better news today. There are many thoughts that are going through my mind right now. I’ll write a brief paragraph on each of them.

Negative. Since when is negative a good thing? Many years ago, about 30 (we were still kids), I got a call from my wife’s doctor. It was our home phone; there were no cell phones back then. I think she had just had a mammogram. The doctor said, your wife’s results are negative. Note, this is probably before HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – i.e., medical privacy) too. I was stunned. I said, what do you mean negative? Isn’t that bad? The doctor probably thought I was a complete idiot, but kindly explained that it was negative for disease and that was a good thing. I won’t make that mistake again.

What’s next (short term)? I asked my doctor this question. Given that there are no changes from the initial radiologist’s report, he said we may just want to watch that new lump area, maybe biopsy it (with an emphasis on maybe), and probably begin a monitoring program (e.g., periodic scans). No more chemo for now.

What’s next (long term)? By this, I mean getting back to my new normal. I wrote about this in the blog a month or so ago. Getting back to my new normal could take a few months, but then what? I may actually live. A little history refresher on my treatment and prognosis is in order. In May 2006, my surgeon did a laser surgery on me and could not get clean margins around my cancer. In July 2006, I had major surgery. My doctor said that without this surgery I would be dead within a few months. With this surgery, there was a 15% chance of a cure. It was a tough decision. The surgery disabled me physically, but I was “negative” for detectable cancer for 5 months, until December 2006. At that point, my surgeon mentioned palliative care. That’s where you go when they stop looking for a cure and focus on treating the symptoms and making you comfortable until you expire. He also suggested a re-visit with my chemo doctor. By the way, to be fair, my surgeon was not pushing palliative care, but he did mention it as an option. From December 2006 to September 2007, I have been on heavy toxic doses of chemo plus had one more surgery to remove the last detectable cancer spot. That surgery was in June 2007. Based on all this, I’ve been consumed by the high likelihood of death in the near future. Today’s scan result will make me rethink this. It hasn’t totally sunk in and I have some recovering to do from the chemo, but then what do I do? I'll need to give this some thought. When I have some answers, I’ll write about it.

Thank you again for all your good wishes and support.

Take care everyone.

4 comments:

justme519 said...

Congradulations! That doesn't even seem like enough but thats the only word I could think of. With some rest and healing the answers to your questions will come easily. Now you can enjoy your family and regain your strength. What a blessing. Again, congradulations!
Respectfuly,
Tanya

Aoife said...

Well done, that is great news. I have oesophageal cancer myself (I'm only 33) and have a 30% chance of making it. It is hard to look past now as I am scared of the future. I am glad that you have your chance though.

Take care,

Aoife

Kevin said...

Ed, I just heard about your illness. I've been working with Jeffrey M. and he asked if I had been following your blog. I have read quite a bit, and am amazed at your stamina and drive. Congrats on your latest news! ...late in the game, but I'll keep following. Keep up the positive attitude, and my thoughts are with you and your family! Kevin B.

windrider said...

Hello!

Just "found" you today via Leroy Seivers blog.

I am a lung cancer survivor, two years post chemo, and your accounts resonate with me.

Thanks for our honesty and the positive attitude you display.

Peggy