Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Numb. Jab. Repeat.

I had a great showing at this afternoon’s tumor board. It was so fabulous that they want more.

My favorite surgeon called this afternoon to let me know that my case was presented, and that my oncologist was part of the review team. In an effort to have some sort of bedside manner, he said that the oncologist was looking forward to meeting me later this week. Then he broke the news that they need to perform another FNA biopsy. On the original pathology report, it was suggested that they may want to perform an additional test for more definitive information – not to the fact that I have cancer, but in classifying what kind. The FNA isn’t too big of deal. It’s a little painful and causes some serious neck bruising, but the good news is that it’s over in about a half an hour. I have it scheduled for Friday, since I already had to take time off for the oncology appointment.

Determining the type of cancer is critically important to determining my treatment. There are two categories of lymphoma, and tens of sub-types. It’s been difficult for me to research the disease just in the fact that I don’t know exactly what I have. The pathology said it was “large cell lymphoma”, but didn’t specify if it was T-Cell, B-Cell, Hodgkins, Non-Hodgkins, etc.

The oncologist also wants me scheduled for a PET scan. I completed expected this. This is a high-tech CT type scan that is performed with contrast. Some sort of contrast is ingested, and then I will have to sit or lie very still for a while. The contrast is attracted to highly active cells – i.e., cancer cells. We’re hoping the cancer is just camping out in my neck and hasn’t decided to go exploring. The PET scan will be Monday. Apparently, this can take a couple of hours so there goes another day wasted!

I need to get over the fact that I’ll be taking some serious time off. And luckily my workplace has been very gracious in trying to find ways to make the whole balancing work and cancer concept a bit easier. They’ve lined up someone to cover my work duties for whatever time I need to take off. The great news is they couldn’t have assigned a better person. She is someone I consider a mentor and a marketing guru, and if I was given a choice of any person within the company to take this on she would have been first on the list.

Each time I write this blog, I think to myself that maybe I don’t need to give the world a play-by-play. But it’s really more for me to work through my own feelings. I don’t know if it’s like this with everyone, but when you are diagnosed with cancer it becomes all you can think about. I don’t think I go five minutes without thinking about it. And part of it is that cancer creeps into every aspect of your life. At this time of year, I have a calendar full of holiday parties, the annual Hickory Wine Shoppe champagne tasting, cutting down a Christmas tree, house hunting with my Mom, etc. And every time I think of one of these things, I have to wonder “Will I be on chemotherapy by then? If so, will I be well enough to do it? Will I have lost my hair by then?” I even think further ahead to the vacation we have scheduled in May and wonder if we’ll even get to go.

I am anxious to talk with other cancer patients to find out if this type of thinking eventually wanes and if there is a new normal that develops to help one cope with the uncertainty.

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