Monday, September 11, 2006

Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I haven't posted anything new since I was told that my previous cancer may be back, this time in two swollen lymph nodes in my chest. Alas, that's because here we are, two weeks later... and I still don't really know anything new.

I have talked with the surgeon who would perform a biopsy, if one is needed. He recommended I first undergo a PET scan, which is like a CT scan but using a glucose-based solution (instead of iodine contrast) and that it is a full-body scan, unlike a localized CT. He recommended this step for a couple reasons. One, should the nodes prove to be suspect (the glucose causes them to light up -- show "hot", if you will -- if they're cancerous), the PET will give him a better idea which one to go after for the biopsy -- as neither is in the most accessible location (damn ribs and internal organs).

The second reason is one I'm trying not to read too much hope into. There's a chance... actually, a fairly good one... that both nodes will show up "cold", meaning it's not cancer that caused them to swell but instead something else. There are many things that could cause that to happen -- normal body stuff, for one, or perhaps an infection or inflammation of some kind. But we won't know for sure until I undergo the PET scan... and hence, the wait.

As it is an expensive test, we're waiting for insurance to approve it. Welcome to the modern healthcare system. As the request was submitted after Labor Day, it will likely take at least a week for an approval to come back. My doctor only performs PET scans on Tuesdays... which, unless something miraculous happens today, means my next chance falls on the 19th.

Happy fucking 31st birthday to me.

As you can tell, I'm bitter. I had a lot planned for the rest of this year, including at least getting my sport pilot ticket. Now, as occurred in January when this whole ordeal started, I'm in a holding pattern again. Except back in January, I had no time to be scared -- everything happened so fast, I had little time to contemplate everything until it was already over.

This time... I've had plenty of time to contemplate the various worst case scenarios (which, it's worth noting, are still better than many diagnosed with cancer can claim.) Chemo. Hair loss. Possible sterility from the chemo -- my oncologist is recommending the sperm bank again. (Gee, yeah, THAT'S what I feel like doing right now.) And, yes... my own mortality.

God, I wish they'd approve this damn test. Even bad news is better than none.

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