May 10, 2012 - 4:43 pm
Six years ago today, I had already been told I had a mass in my kidney and one, possibly two in the left lobe of my liver, and they couldn't tell what else. On 5/10, the oncologist gave me the news that the odds for Stage IV were a 5-7 month survival without treatment. He recommended surgery. More tests-CT, Bone Scan, consult with 3 specialists in one room at Oregon Health Sciences University (Urologic/Oncologic surgeon, Thoracic surgeon with specialty in Liver diseases, and a general research oncologist.) "We can do it, they said."
Less than 6 weeks later, they did it! Removed were a r. kidney with an 8x12x8 cm tumor, the left lobe of the liver with another large tumor, a set of lymph nodes from near the kidney with 3 of 11 positive for cancer...and my gall bladder, which had a congenital defect and wan't draining right anyway. Other than an episode of pancreatitis at three weeks post surgery, recovery was "normal."
I went on an every 3 month CT, and the difference between the winter and spring tests showed an enlarging node in the fossa (depression) where the kidney had been. It was only attached to the aorta and the duodenum. Confirmation on fine needle aspiration biopsy. I pretty much knew the routine, and had an appointment set up with the specialist at OHSU, via blackberry while he was at a convention out of town. End of June, they added to the incision scar, did the delicate surgery, and sent me on my way. I felt so well, I drove part of the way home and took myself out to lunch the following day.
Routine CT's at 6 months now.
Oops...a change between the 6 mo and 12 mo scans. This time a node dorsal (back of) to the bifurcation of the aorta (where it splits in the lower abdomen to go down each leg); it could not be biopsied, but the PET scan showed it was glowing abnormally. Another surgery, this one vertically, too. Now the scar is up to 14 inches long.
So what may be said at this time. It hasn't been easy, my body is older. I've had six more birthdays. It's been 3 years since the most recent cancer Dx. It's been 8 months since the most recent scare (thyroid tumors found on CT, then ultrasound, nuclear scan and biopsy- results,negative).
But I go to work, play with the grand children, belong to community organizations, volunteer at the high school, visit with family and friends, buy plants for the garden, travel, etc. It sounds pretty bland. Makes one almost feel normal, except there is always, always a nagging doubt somewhere in the back of the mind as the next set of tests approaches.
Surgery has been my option and it's been successful each time. To those who have had mets to other places and are able to use drug treatments, even in tests, my hats are off to you.
A recent mailing from our Relay for Life coordinator indicated that there is a 63% survival rate from cancer now. We have lots to look forward to in the future.
And, More birthdays to us all.