Well, to update you, I had a pretty sobering visit with my oncologist today.
As you know, my CA-125 protein levels – the cancer marker – are checked every three weeks. As of six weeks ago, they had decreased 83% from where they were pre-surgery. Then, three weeks ago, they were tested and hadn’t dropped, which worried me a bit. So my oncologist ordered CT scans to hopefully ease my mind.
Today my CA-125 levels were tested again. I met with my doc to talk about the CT scans for the first time and to hear the status of my CA-125. The news was less than good.
First, my CA-125 levels still hadn’t dropped; they seem to be stuck. Then there’s a couple of questionable spots near my liver and spleen that the radiologist said bear watching. The spots are not clearly visible, as there is a lot of fluid in that area because of the infusion of IP chemo directly into my abdomen. But they are worrisome.
I asked my doc what would happen if the spots were still there after treatment was finished, if she’d need to go in and remove them surgically. She said no, no surgery. I asked why and she said that she would tell me because I asked, but I wouldn’t like the answer.
She said that if these places proved to be malignant and didn’t respond to the best chemotherapy available, it would do no good to remove them, except perhaps to make me feel better psychologically. She compared them to dandelions. She said she could go in and pluck the two visible dandelions in a big meadow, but she couldn’t do anything about the possibly hundreds of microscopic dandelion seeds spread around the meadow. In other words, if those places around my liver and spleen are a cancer powerful enough to live through 21 blasts of the best chemo available, my abdomen is likely filled with untold amounts of cancer cells waiting to sprout and grow.
I’d be fucked.
And radiation isn’t an option either.
So basically, I wait. And as Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part.
Of course I’m scared shitless. I had gotten a little complacent about being in the home stretch of kicking cancer’s ass. But I may be going into overtime. I may need a Hail Mary. (I feel certain I’m mixing sports metaphors here in an unforgivable fashion. My apologies to those who understand sports and are cringing right now.)
I posted an article on CafeMom this week about body image and paying more attention to inner health than outer beauty. You can read it here.
And with the encouragement of several friends, I also entered a “real woman” beauty search sponsored by More magazine, thinking that it would be cool if a different kind of beauty – bald chemo chick trying to focus on inner health more than outer beauty – was chosen to represent.
I confess I feel a little silly now about both of these things. They seem somewhat superficial in the face of, hey, guess what, your treatment might not be working so well after all.
I’m trying not to go down the rabbit hole with this, but rather to keep my head in the same place as my ass. After all, we don’t know what these spots are at this point. Although my doctor is worried and so am I, these spots very well may not be cancer. We just don’t know.
So we stick with Treatment Plan A. And we wait. The hardest part.
Love and gratitude,