At first, I wrote this post with a long and winding introduction to the news – this great big fat good news - but that doesn't seem fair so I'm redoing it and adding what had been intro material as an addendum below. Here is the news:
On Friday, my Whipple Procedure surgeon said that the many tests given during my hospital stay 10 days ago showed – and I quote - “no current evidence of cancer”.
Just for fun, let's repeat that: no current evidence of cancer. Isn't that amazing.
One of the surgeon's nurses who I've come to know a bit relayed his statement to me via phone message and added, “so go celebrate.”
I started with a good cry. When I tapped the phone off, the tears just flowed on their own. There turns out to be a nice symmetry too: the day after this overwhelming and unexpected news was given to me – that is, 20 January – was the seven-month anniversary of the Whipple surgery last June.
This definitely is a grace – defined by Christians as an unearned, unmerited, undeserved favor from god. If like me, god is a tricky concept for you, think of it as the same kind of gift but from the universe.
It is a grace because it's a big deal and I certainly did nothing to cause it. The doctors and nurses and other healthcare people at OHSU did all the work – the surgery, help with recovery, chemotherapy, hand-holding, question answering, etc.
All I did was follow their instructions to the best of my ability.
And then there are all of you – the wonderful TGB readers who every day have left encouraging notes, stories, prayers and thoughts. Can anyone prove they don't work? I can't, and they helped keep me going especially on the most difficult days.
Friends and neighbors belong on this list too – the people who have served as chauffeurs to and from the doctors, shoppers before I could drive again after the surgery, cat care when I couldn't bend to clean the litter box, among so much more including unending moral support.
Thank you seems too puny but it is deeply heartfelt.
Even with this great good news, however, there is more medical stuff to come. As I mentioned last Monday, I have a small, internal bleed that, if it does not heal on its own, will require surgery which will be extensive enough to result in a recovery period almost as difficult as the Whipple. What helps make it tolerable for me is that it is a mechanical problem – sort of a loose connection – unrelated to pancreatic cancer.
The decision about the surgery will be made in early February.
Unfortunately, I can't just relegate this bout of cancer to a minor interruption in life and get on with everything else. Tests will be needed every few months for as long as I live to check for any recurrence or new cancer. Too bad about that but after these past seven months, I'm pretty sure I can manage it without too much anxiety.
As the old song says, “whatever will be, will be,” but for today, let's imagine I've shipped off a bottle of champagne to every one of you and together let's toast the universe, its occasional gifts and my incredible, great, good luck.
Thank you all so much for helping me through this ordeal. You are the best.