Column: And The “Scancer” Is…

Column: And The “Scancer” Is…


Kenneth B. Lourie

Unknown at this date – Saturday, November 15. In fact, it will be six days from now until we’ll know the results. As it is always scheduled, a week or so after my quarterly CT Scan, we will have our usual follow-up, face-to-face appointment with my oncologist. At this meeting, I am examined, and of course, the radiologist’s report of the most recent scan is discussed, and plans for the future – stay the course and/or adjust or switch altogether – are considered.

However, this week there’s been a blip. My chemotherapy infusion was delayed one week at least, maybe longer, because my creatinine levels were too high. Creatinine levels reflect kidney function, and when my level exceeds normal, given the potential for kidney failure – ultimately, and all the associated, interim complications/effects – treatment is stopped until additional lab work is completed. Now, in and of itself, this presents concerns; in conjunction with a potentially disappointing CT Scan, results of which will be learned on the 21st (even though I remain asymptomatic and feel as normal as a stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer survivor could possibly feel nearing year six, post-diagnosis), this presents worries exponentially more distressing.

Still, I’m not there yet and won’t react as if the diagnosis is confirmed until it is. For the moment, I am simply enduring the typical ups and downs of living with an originally-diagnosed-as-terminal/inoperable form of lung cancer (are there any others?). There are good days and bad days to be sure, and many daze before, during and after. To be alive and facing this as yet unconfirmed complication is par for the course. To expect any different would be unrealistic. Most stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer patients don’t survive as long as I have. Ergo, I would never complain about a situation that few of my fellow lung cancer patients have lived long enough to even consider. Heck, I’m the lucky one, considering I was originally given a “13-month to two-year” prognosis back in late February, 2009. I’m grateful to be in my shoes (any shoes, actually; sneakers mostly, because the chemotherapy-induced neuropathy in my feet is uncomfortable, a small price to pay relative to my original diagnosis/prognosis).

Initially, when I thought of this title, I was planning on channeling Alex Trebek by incorporating as many Jeopardy (the game show) touches as I could into this column: the questions, the answers, the categories, the “Daily Double,” “Double Jeopardy,” (“where the scores double and the game can really change”), “Final Jeopardy” (although working in its theme song would have been a challenge) and maybe even Merv Griffin would get a mention, all in an attempt to be funny.

But there’s nothing very funny about the situation in which I find myself. I remain positive and upbeat, and after almost six years of experience living this emotional roller coaster, this week of waiting, even with the additional blip, is manageable, believe it or not. It’s just not fun, whether you’re asking or answering.

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