Column: Not So Late This Time

Column: Not So Late This Time


Kenneth B. Lourie

But real-time once again: February 20, 11 hours, approximately, after our regularly-scheduled, post-scan meeting with the oncologist at 10:00 this morning. The news could have been better, and realistically assessing, it could have been worse. But since it wasn’t better, it was definitely worse. Something “fluffy” (my oncologist’s description) has appeared and begun to take some kind of shape in my left lung. It’s not exactly a nodule or a tumor yet, but it’s something that wasn’t there previously. Oddly enough, all the other tumors that we’ve been monitoring didn’t grow, nor were there any fluid issues to consider. Nevertheless, something new seems to be forming.

In discussing its appearance with my oncologist, he said if the mass was smaller, he wouldn’t be too concerned and if it was larger he’d be more concerned. But its size is in the middle. Compounding his level of concern – and complicating his medical opinion, is that I remain relatively asymptomatic, giving him no clues and/or indications to corroborate a malignancy or even a possible pneumonia. Consequently, this appointment became a serious discussion about varying options to determine a prudent course of action treating forward; the kind of appointment which we haven’t had for over 18 months, since I was last hospitalized in August, 2013.

To say we’ve been living on easy street, accordingly, this past year and a half is a bit of an oversimplification. To say we’ve occasionally taken for granted my amazing good fortune is likewise a bit of a presumption. We have, however, gotten accustomed to an ebb and flow, focusing more on the good and less on the bad. But since an updated determination concerning this growth can’t be made for two months, until my next CT Scan (advanced by one month due to these new circumstances), waiting, wondering and worrying will be the inescapable order of the day, week and months ahead; a bit of a different mindset than we’ve been used to of late. Over this interval, my treatment will continue on as usual: chemotherapy every three weeks with Alimta, so long as my kidney function allows it. In the short-term interim, I have been prescribed five days of antibiotics in case this growth is pneumonia, not cancer. Regardless, we still won’t know anything for a few months, unless, of course, I develop some new symptoms.

I can’t deny that receiving this news earlier today was discouraging. I’ll probably need some time to assimilate it, rationalize it, understand it and ultimately deal with it. But “it” is definitely now top of mind once again, not where I want it and certainly not where I need it.

Still, life goes on, as I often say, and it’s a life I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had, given the “13-month to two-year” prognosis I received back in late February, 2009. (I always put the “prognosis” in quotes because that’s what my oncologist told Team Lourie.) In fact, next Friday is February 27th, my six-year anniversary of surviving a terminal diagnosis, I’m proud to point out. And even though I’ve been there and done that years longer than anticipated, doing this doesn’t get any easier.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers.