Ordinarily, I'd be writing this column this weekend – after this week's events. Events, and I use that term loosely, that will either sustain my good fortune – or change it for the worse. What I'm referring to are results from my bi-monthly/quarterly diagnostic scans. This week I'll be CT-scanned from the pelvis to the neck and will have had my bones scanned as well. The associated lab work and blood pressure check required pale in comparison to the significance of the findings from these two scans. Scan results which will tell me how I feel, a day or two later when I will receive electronically the radiologist's assessment/interpretation of the scans. But since I'll be out of town, with limited computer access and only a "stupid" phone (no internet capability), not a smart phone to use, I'll be left to my own devices – literally, until I return home Sunday afternoon.
Since I'll likely not receive any results before we leave on Friday, and moreover, not have the time to write a column this coming weekend (last weekend when the paper publishes on the 24th), I am minding my own business six days earlier than usual in hopes that what I don't know now won't hurt me later. And given that I take my avocation/column writing seriously, rather than reprint an old column, I am writing a new/current column in advance to continue to lead you regular readers down my garden's path.
The path to which I refer hopefully will be a path of least resistance that will enable me to assimilate all my forthcoming medical data into some coherent assessment of where I am, health-wise. Will I be able to maintain my status quo: 10 MG of Lenvima, or will I have to change protocols and no longer stay on the horse that brung me? I have to hope I can continue on at my present pace because the 14 MG and 24 MG doses each had unpleasant side effects which led to the reductions in the first place. And to complicate the dose possibilities, each of the higher doses led to stable/some shrinkage on the CT scan and a significant reduction as well in my cancer markers, down from 200 to 4. This will be my first scan since I've taken the smaller dose. To say I'm somewhat invested in the outcome of this week's scans would be the understatement of the universe.
Unfortunately, none of this information will likely have been emailed to me – at home before we leave town – and I'll not have time and place to write a column this weekend while out of town. Therefore, I am submitting this column, written six days ahead of my typical deadline, with the best of intentions. In effect, today becomes just another day ("the daze of my life") of a person undergoing treatment for an incurable form of cancer; that type being papillary thyroid cancer stage IV versus the original/in-dispute diagnosis: non small cell lung cancer, stage IV.
It will definitely be awkward knowing that diagnostic information about my health/presumptive welfare is in an inbox waiting for my log-in information. It's hardly ideal, but as a long-time cancer survivor, I have been here before and have done that. I'm not thrilled about being away when my life might possibly be hanging in the balance. I guess that's what cell phones are for: reaching out and sort of touching someone. If my doctors really need to talk with me, they are welcome to call. You can be sure my phone will be fully charged and with me at all times. After all, it might be good news, too. I mean, stranger things have happened: being diagnosed with "terminal" lung cancer after never having smoked cigarettes. Granted, upwards of 25% of new lung cancer cases are never-smokers, but still, with no history of cancer in my family and never having been a smoker, I kind of figured I had a fighting chance to avoid this disease. I guess my reward is that 12+ years after my initial "13 month to two year" prognosis, I'm still alive and writing.