Three R’s

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 9.53.45 PMFor whatever strange reason, hearing that one singular word last week (remission!) was peculiarly hard for me to absorb.  Sure, the CT scan showed great results,  so logic would say I should just breathe in the good news, revel in it and joyfully celebrate.  This whole journey has been so peculiar from the outset.  It’s hard to emotionally stand down, take a step back and ease up.

After my oncologist happily declared my remission, we went on to discuss next steps in the treatment plan. Steps which are above and beyond the ongoing schedule of infusions that I continue to receive every three weeks.  We discussed other tools in the weapon arsenal, one of which is radiation. Given the outstanding results of my CT scan, my oncologist felt the discussion should continue with a specialist in radiation oncology.  So she set me up for a consultation appointment with the radiation oncologist who is also a member of the ‘tumor board’…a weekly gathering of highly skilled physicians who provide a forum for discussing complex cases that require an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to treatment.

Hubby and I met with him two days ago. Turns out, he’s very familiar with my case (and has been following it for quite some time) because it was thoroughly reviewed and discussed with the tumor board months ago.  And given my history with cancer, which my entire medical team thought we’d licked eleven years ago, he pointed out some unknowns.

First, there’s considerable question (and no way of knowing) whether or not my cancer is an actual recurrence from eleven years ago.  The possibility exists that there might have been ‘rogue cells’ left behind which have since migrated to a new location and thrown out a new twist in the form of a gene mutation…making this a much more aggressive cancer now.  The migration scenario isn’t impossible, but it’s also not terribly likely given the scope of multiple surgeries I endured all those years ago. However, the fact still remains: there is no way of knowing for sure.

Second, although the cancer was found in the axillary tissue adjacent to and tucked up around a swollen lymph node, the swollen node proper did not have cancer cells present. So, one might presume that the cancer had traveled no further, although the pathologist reported that there was ‘likely lymphatic invasion’ based on his findings that the adjoining tissue had cancer ‘percolating throughout’.  Which leaves the possibility that the cancer could have already attacked nodes which would no longer be detectable on the scans.  And we already know that scans don’t catch all cancer, especially microscopic in nature.  I found that out eleven years ago at the very beginning of my cancer journey.

As hubby and I listened to what is UNKNOWN about the particulars of my case, I felt oddly assured.  The mighty fight is going to continue, even after six hard rounds of chemotherapy and a host of bizarre and annoying side effects.  Even with an excellent CT scan result,  that one singular R word, remission, rings awkwardly in my ears.  I would love to be convinced about remission with absolute certainty, but the fact of the matter is…I feel no certainty about this.  Cancer is a nasty beast.

Oh how I would love to grab that word ‘remission’, knowing confidently that it has been firmly affixed to my medical records.  But there’s an unease that I can’t deny.  A discomfort, an intuition…and it’s screaming at me:  ‘Tread lightly! Eyes wide open! Insidious enemy lurking! Don’t let your guard down!‘  

Which brings me to the second R word.  Radiation.

I’m going for twenty five rounds of it, five days a week for five straight weeks.  Based on the brazen return of this enemy, and with the use of a linear accelerator (doesn’t that just sound so freakin’ awesome?!) we’re going to blast the hell out of the whole damn lymph node playground.  There will be no percolating allowed.

Remission and Radiation.         Radiation and Remission.

Those two R’s go hand-in-hand, clearly.  The third R?

RELIEF.

7 thoughts on “Three R’s

  1. Oh! IF only I could give some of my strength to you, I would. You must be exhausted. My heart goes out to you.

    TheThree R’s are such that even though you feel relief now, you must still be tired. You are taking this all so bravely.. take care sweet memoir friend. If you believe in prayers, then I’m praying for you. To keep strong and for energy for continuing this fight.

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thank you so much Clara. I’m motoring along well. What has fallen by the wayside is the writing…I try to update my blog every few weeks, but with band aids protecting my loose fingernails, it is slow going to work much on my computer. Will be glad to see that side effect disappear! Hope your writing continues to move along nicely and that warmer weather is headed to your part of the country soon. Saw your fb post today…curled up with a good book since temps are freezing outdoors. Sometimes those are simply the BEST days! Sending all good wishes to you. Let me know if you need a beta reader on your memoir, when the time comes. Would love to support you in any way I can!

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  2. My prayers continue to be with you my friend…you are amazing. Huge hugs to you every step of the way… ❤

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thank you Sherri. I’ve got the first week of radiation behind me now, and it was very manageable (aside from the juggling of my client time each day in order to accommodate the daily trips to the hospital for treatment). All that extra daily driving is no picnic, but given the circumstances, it’s really NO problem 🙂
      Am behind on my reading of your recent blog posts and others whose blogs I follow, but have kept all the email notices in my ‘inbox’ so that I can get to them as time allows. So many gifted and inspirational people out here in cyberspace…and so happy to have connected with YOU!! Sending big hugs right back to you! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So glad I (re)found your blog, and that you’re able to write a post from time to time. We appreciate the updates, and send you vibes of good health, love, and the belief that the 3 R’s will keep the remission a constant word in your vocabulary. xo

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    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thank you for those vibes! They are most appreciated 🙂 Hope those Hawaiian skies are wrapping you in a warmth that will carry you through the rest of the Boston winter that is clearly having a field day while you’re away. Look forward to seeing you next time you’re here in Marin! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

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