Opinion: Column: News I Know Now—And You Do, Too

Opinion: Column: News I Know Now—And You Do, Too

Stay the course. Meaning, to write short a long story: same three-week chemotherapy interval, same medicine/dosage, same quarterly scan to be followed up by usual and customary same post-scan appointment nine days later with my same diagnosis-to-date oncologist.

The reason being, to lengthen a short paragraph: the tumors that had slowly progressed – which at some point, generally speaking, was not totally unexpected, given the underlying diagnosis, and which had precipitated the most recent series of columns exploring my anxiety concerning tumor growth after five-plus years of mostly "stable" CT scan results – have once again been stabilized.

My doctor's thinking/hope is that returning me to the more aggressive/frequent treatment interval: three weeks between chemotherapy infusions versus the previous seven-week infusion intervals, might have nipped the previous growth in the bud; not enough medicine and too infrequently administered. However, just a theory, because I did have a tumor, previously noted radiologically but mostly off the radar, that has grown significantly.

But the doctors can't say with any certainty if this "significant" growth occurred during the preceding months, when my treatment interval had been extended to seven weeks, or if had it grown during the most recent seven weeks, when I had three separate infusions and thus had actually stopped the growth as compared to the October 2017 scan referenced by the radiologist.

Not knowing definitively which scenario was correct, and rather than switch off the horse that we rode in on so successfully, we decided to commit to another familiar quarter of Alimta every three weeks, etc., and re-assess in 12 weeks when my next typically/regularly scheduled CT scan will occur. Then we can re-evaluate our options.

If in the interim however, I feel this newly acknowledged tumor growing – and given its location directly under my Adam's apple, it's likely I will feel/see something, unlike with any of the other tumors located throughout my lungs – I will, as they say, alert the authorities.

To be clear – as clear as layman Kenny can be after hearing an oncologist's answer to one of Kenny's muddled what-if cancer questions – this currently focused-on tumor does not represent "spread:" movement in non-medical terms. And movement/“spread” in the cancer-patient's world is not good. So far as I understand, anyway.

However thankful I am that this tumor's appearance doesn't indicate "spread," its growth is nonetheless concerning. Unfortunately, for our sanity, the best course of action, all things considered, per Friday's appointment/discussion/agreed-on strategy going forward, is to wait and see.

Hardly ideal. But in the cancer treatment business, there are some reactive rather than proactive pursuits.

As much as I want and expect my oncologist to know answers/outcomes in advance, he doesn't/just can't. Cancer is in control and what it decides to do is anybody's guess. For my oncologist, it's an educated guess. For the patient (yours truly, anyway), it's not a guess, it's a hope and a prayer.

Now you've been updated to the extent you're so inclined. In real time, you now know, in addition to the nine-plus years behind, the next three months ahead.

And though the circumstances may sound unfamiliar to some of you regular readers, for us cancer patients, this kind of emotional roller coaster is somewhere between de rigueur and par for the course. Betwixt and between, you might say. Nothing new, that's for sure; and we'd like it be nothing new for as long as possible, if you know I mean?

But there's no guarantee with any of it. Guarantees went out the window the day I was officially diagnosed: 2/27/09. That's when Team Lourie met the man/oncologist who would take over my life. And so far, nearly 10 years post-diagnosis, he's taken over pretty well.

So living forward under the semi constraints I've described, I can do. It's not ideal; but it's a living, and for that, I'm grateful.