Yes… I have procrastinated and I have done a very good job of it. I allowed myself to be intentionally sidetracked from a discussion of the latest test. So… Now that the holidays have passed… the winter chill is forcing itself through the crack beneath my door with the assistance of the north wind… I suppose it is time for discussion of the results.
My problem with this has been that I have rewritten this post five times now. The first writing and perhaps complete with the most truth… was far too negative for me to even want to share with my readers. As I reread this final rewrite… I find it to be quite negative as well and I will apologize in advance. I am also aware that it is far too long to hold one’s interest, so don’t feel badly if you don’t make it all the way through.
Here are the results in a nut shell… with commentary of course.
Head and Neck findings: No abnormal uptake in the head or neck… (I’ll celebrate that one.)
Chest findings: The uptake values for the right hilar node and for the subcarinal node have decreased. (I was hoping for no uptake at all… but I will take this as very good news.)
There are calcifications in the ‘left’ hilum and left lower lobe of the lung. (That’s the opposite side from the tumors. Don’t know where that is heading.)
Wedge shaped area of atelectasis (collapse) and likely postradiation pneumonitis now at the right lung base with SUV uptake. Hmmm…What the heck does that mean? Usually… if it is glowing… it is not a good thing. That is the same area where the (tumor before last) was located. Previous PET showed no uptake in that area.
Things not discussed with me when the doc reviewed the report… the things I discovered after reading the report myself… and of course… now I have questions that won’t get answered any time soon.
Accumulation in both kidneys. Other PET scans did not indicate this so this is something new. When reviewing my copy of the CD from the scan… I noted a lot of glowing orange to yellow to nearly a white (the worst of the SUV values) in both kidneys. Cancer wasn’t noted by the radiologist, so I am assuming that the accumulation noted is something else. I suppose I will assume that is an indication that the kidneys are not functioning as they should.
Multiple calcifications in the spleen. Something else new. I have no idea of the consequences of that.
Multiple diverticulosis. I know the consequences of this one.
So, when I put all of these things together… what do I have… a man of delusion who somehow manages to ‘think’ he is going to beat all the odds?… one that has endured cancer in five different areas, some of which had odds stacked severely against him, yet has survived? Has radiation destroyed too much of the good along with the bad? Is this the good the bad and the ugly of it all? Is this what cancer does to human beings? If it can’t beat you by strangling you with tumors… it beats you with the only sorry forms of treatment that have been allowed to be developed and used on human beings. (unless of course, you have the means and physical ability to travel to other places that offer… perhaps… a better course of treatment.)
I’m not sure how to answer any of those questions.
Of course, this journal wouldn’t be complete without at least a brief discussion of the cost of cancer treatment. It is a quite lucrative industry. If you are lucky(?) enough to survive the cancer… to survive the treatments… will you be fortunate enough to still survive your utility bills… mortgage… food… gas for your twenty year old car that struggles to get you to and from your treatments? The financial struggle becomes as difficult as the physical struggle for many of us. Could this be a major factor in the thoughts of those who eventually just give up the fight?
I watch all those commercials on TV asking you to donate to all the cancer nonprofits and it often shows a very touching heart grabbing scene of people with cancer… often using children to grab you by the heart. These commercials just makes me sicker than I already am. I have one question for all who may read this post. Have you… or has anyone you know… ever attempted to get help from any one of the cancer nonprofit organizations in the U.S.? Well… I have. I’ve contacted every one of them. Want to hear their responses? Ummm… we don’t have funds available for your region of the country. Ummm… we don’t help with that kind of cancer. Ummm… We’re currently out of available funds. Ummm… We can’t help you because you have extenuating circumstances due to heart disease. Ummm… Well… you get the picture. The result? Ummm… No help from even one single non profit organization. Funny though how the CEO’s and many others profit quite well from your tender hearted donations. I know they must help someone… somewhere… but so far… I’ve found no real living human being that has told me so… except the ones on the ads begging you for money.
Yes… I am exactly what you are thinking… discouraged… disillusioned… frustrated… angry… saddened… broke (the piggy bank doesn’t even ‘rattle’ any more)… there are no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head… only visions of glowing metastatic cancer orbs traveling through my lymph nodes… no sugar coating available.
So the real question lies within the heart, mind and soul of the cancer patient. Does he still have a fight left in him? Does he still have hope? The answer is, of course…. yes. Although that fight and that hope may soon come from a cardboard box beneath the river bridge… the vision of hope still bides inside of me.
I still have hope because I somehow still manage to get out of bed in the morning… although it is much more painful than it was a year ago… and make my way to the coffee pot… although travel time between the bed and the kitchen has increased considerably. Yes… my lungs are noisy. They squeak, they moan, they gurgle, they speak to me in foreign languages that for some unknown reason… I can understand. Weakness often overwhelms me. I have to just plop my tired ass down in the nearest chair and rest a while before continuing. I have chills without fever… I often have a low grade fever without knowing why… I have chest pain continually from the collapsed lung, the damage from radiation, pleural effusion and chronic pneumonia. So far… I have found no one willing to change bodies with me.
Now… what’s next? Hmm… My doc reminded me that:
“We have very few options. This is just the way it is going to be.”
Wait… What? Is this some form of reality shock therapy? Maybe I don’t want to accept that theory. After all… this hilum and subcarinal cancers have a 5% to 8% or something or other survival rate and I’m still here… drinking coffee and writing this journal. I may be the next one you see at the Walmart parking lot exit holding up a piece of cardboard that says… “Anything helps”… but I will be standing there with hope on my face and a sparkle in my eye and a smile that will let you know that I’m here to wish you a most beautiful day and that there is always hope.
(Update)… This is a bit graphic so if you’d rather not… don’t read beyond this point.
I am now running a higher temp… overall feeling worse than before… (proceed with caution)…. Coughing up stuff with mysterious hues I am actually unable to describe… and blowing my nose after sneezing produces a large amount of hues of crimson…………. and I thought I had enough trouble already. This morning at 4 a.m. I was awakened by a loud growling noise. No… it wasn’t one of the kitties… although I looked around the room to find the source. As it turned out… the loud enough to wake me growling noise was coming from my right lung. Nope… not good.
I guess you can figure out that I am hoping for a much better, brighter and healthier year ahead… for all of us. My apologies for the negativity in this post… but journals should always be penned in truth… and the ‘truth’ is not always pretty.
I thank all of you for your well wishes, your prayers, your healing light, your encouragement and your inspirations.
A beautiful day to you all.
Michael33… Reaching for the sun