I have said that this blog isn’t about me, and I meant it. However, it is a very personal sort of writing, and I need to take a moment to explain for those who follow this blog regularly, particularly those who are my friends from other contexts, what is going on with me that may well intrude into the stories that I tell in the immediate future.
I will soon spend a couple of days in the hospital again. I have CT scans done at six-month intervals to ensure that if my esophageal cancer returns, we know about it early, while there is still a possibility of effective treatment. I had a CT two Wednesdays back, and two days later, the nurse-practitioner from my onclogist’s office told me that there is a small, “highly suspicious” mass growing in my right lung. She instructed me to make an immediate appointment for a PET scan and an immediate appointment with a thoracic surgeon. These instructions were more ominous than the description of what was seen on the scan.
PET scans show the level of metabolic activity in different places in the body, and can be very effective in ferreting out cancer, which is more metabolically active than other tissues. The scan didn’t show any areas of heightened activity, but I was told to see the surgeon anyway, and was told that my oncologist wants this thing out and biopsied.
I saw the thoracic surgeon on Tuesday afternoon, and he said that PET scans aren’t perfect, they frequently miss cancers smaller than 1 cm, and this thing is scarcely 9 mm.
When I saw my oncologist the next day, he told me that it’s impossible to say what it is without a biopsy; it could easily be a metastatic recurrence of my esophageal cancer (EC), a new lung cancer, or something entirely benign. It probably won’t make any difference if I wait two or three months to find out, but I’d better not wait six months.
So, this Friday will find me back in the operating room at The Valley Hospital, this time for a thorascopic wedge resection of mystery meat in my right lung. I have been there a lot lately. (Last July 31, I had emergency surgery for an obstructed intestine. January 20, my badly broken wrist was put back together. April 22, I had a routine knee arthroscopy for torn cartilage.) In all likelihood, I will be home before the weekend is over, and should know what the little piece of mystery meat is by the next Friday.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day, and I will be at the beach. Monday evening until Tuesday afternoon, I will be on call for the ambulance. I anticipate a more usual blog post sometime this week, twice if things break that way. (And don’t be surprised if I post something short from the hospital.)
That reminds me, here is something you should know: during the absolute worst of my cancer treatments, in August and early September, 2007, I was with my wife on the beach at Island Beach State Park every week. That’s because survival isn’t enough; life is more than mere survival, and certainly more than cancer or the threat of cancer. So, whether I have cancer again or not, I chose to be alive. (And the only reason we are alive is to love.)