What an amazing amount of loving kindness you all left in the comments of last Monday's post. There are not good enough words to say how much you all mean to me. The best I can do is, thank you.
After several minutes of pleasantries at the beginning of our tele-medicine conversation, the oncologist told me that my most recent CT scan is “not bad.”
Not bad in the sense that although the cancer has increased in my lung since the previous most recent scan, the growth has been slow. This is surprising, he said, because I have had no chemotherapy (meant, in my case, to slow cancer growth) for a year.
And, apparently, it is enough of a surprise to classify me as an anomaly – an outcome that is not what is expected with my type of cancer and treatment. Don't let that fool you, though. The cancer continues to do what cancer does – grow and spread.
For now, said the doctor, additional chemotherapy is not recommended due to COVID-19's propensity to attack lungs and my impaired immune system. Of course, the chemo clinic takes every precaution against infection but nothing is perfect and I am more susceptible than people without lung or breathing difficulty. So no chemo and I am not certain that if it were recommended I would do it again.
What I didn't tell you in last Monday's post where I announced my week-long hiatus, is that the largest part of the reason for that downtime last week was to keep my anxiety to myself. It's always that way for me: pretty much full-time mental paralysis waiting to discuss a CT-scan with the doctor.
You might recall this paragraph from a week ago:
”And in recent weeks, what I believe to be late(r)-stage cancer symptoms: increased fatigue, body pains...waning appetite, weight loss and a golf-ball-sized growth I discovered four days ago on an inner thigh.”
The waning appetite had already begun to turn itself around when I spoke with the oncologist on Wednesday and the weight loss is righting itself too.
As to the body pains, the doctor said he could prescribe an opioid but I will wait. So far, over-the-counter medication is working and in the past seven or eight days, I have had almost as many pain-free days as painful ones.
So there you are – the cancer is on the move, although not too quickly. Appetite and weight are back to what is normal for me. Pain is controllable. And – oh yes, that golf-ball-sized growth in my groin.
Not cancer. I had to see a doctor in person to deal with what is called, she told me, Bartholin Gland Cyst. I was her second case of it that day.
It is relatively common and usually treated with an antibiotic and/or drainage of the cyst. I've opted for door number one for now and so far it is down to less than half its largest size.
So, that turned out to be a minor distraction compared to the daily upkeep of cancer and COPD.
There is no missing the fact that I am slowing down. Although the heavy fatigue I mentioned last week has morphed into lighter fatigue, there are those pesky pains. When there are none, I spend the day on alert, waiting for one to stab me here or ache there.
I am trying to stop doing that, with no discernible success yet.
You would think by now that I would have this living-with-a-terminal-disease stuff down pat. But no. My body keeps coming up with new ways to get at me, and my mind seems to have a mind of it own – dragging me around to check out some of the darker corridors of my thoughts.
Nevertheless, living is still good most of the time, and I'm not ready to trade it for anything else – especially now that I am officially an anomaly.