About 15 minutes before the end of the Friday workday, I got a call from my doc with the results of my recent PET scan. There is that moment, when she identifies herself on the phone, where my heart drops into my shoes and I'm about 70% scared to hear what she has to say and 30% desperate to hear it. But hear it I must. And I did. And it was not bad news. Not bad at all.
The scan was done to get a baseline, to see if there are any "hot spots" that might indicate treatment is necessary immediately, and to find out exactly where the cancer is located. They knew, of course, that the lymph nodes in my neck were invaded, as that's where I had a biopsy done. They were hoping the nodes in my abdomen might have looked messy on the last scan because of the nasty infection that landed me in the hospital... but no go; the cancer is there, too. And they needed to find out if the nodes between my neck and gut are also affected. They are. So it's everywhere. Blech.
The nodes in my neck and abdomen don't look worse than they did a couple of months ago. There have been no changes. And the ones in between aren't "alarming" in any way. That means the cancer's not growing... or it's growing so slowly that it's not too concerning yet.
So, since I feel perfectly fine and everything looks OK, the plan is to wait 3 months... then I go back in for blood work, an exam, and possibly another scan.
Also? No treatment.
The doc was quick to let me know that if anything changes in the way I feel, I need to get back in there. And although this type of cancer typically moves very slowly and can lie dormant for years, it can become aggressive.
And that? Means I can never rest completely easy. It will always be with me. Always. It will never go away. It will likely never go into remission and, on the off chance it does, it will come back. Treatment will simply set the disease back in time but it will never eradicate it.
On one hand, that sucks. Knowing you have this ugly little poison in your body for the rest of your life doesn't do much to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, you know? On the other, it provides for a certain level of comfort. Well, OK, comfort might not be the right word. But it provides for consistency... and beyond waiting to find out if the growth speed has increased, it means I won't be sitting here wondering if it's going to go away/come back/kill me tomorrow. And honestly? That's a wee bit comfortable.
So this cancer has officially become my new best "friend." If it has to be with me all the time, if I have to get used to living with it, then I figure I'd better make some peace with it. Or at least learn to co-exist. I've been calling it "Rat Bastard," and while that might be fitting, it seems rather... aggressive. So I'm going to give it a new name.
I'm thinking of "Myrtle."
What do you think?
I envision friends asking, "So, how is Myrtle these days?" And I can reply, "You know, she's been quiet," or "Well, she's being a bit pissy right now," or "Man, I want to bitch-slap that wench!"
I like it.
Myrtle it is.
So, everyone, this is Myrtle. Myrtle, this is everyone. Play nice.