Science and anatomy courses were the ones I loved most and did the best in when I was in high school and college. My freshman year of college I bought a copy of Gray’s Anatomy that I still own and still look at once in a while. I thought I remembered and understood a lot about what’s going on with my body and cancer. I’m finding out just how much I don’t know, and believe me, it’s A LOT. It’s very humbling.
When I spoke to the surgeon late last week as a follow up to the CT scan of my chest, she told me that the nodules that were identified in the previous scan were still there, but the thinking on them is that they were enlarged because I was sick at the time. True. I’d been sick with an upper respiratory infection for over a month when I had the scan done. I finally got rid of the infection and virus in February, 4 months later. Thankfully, I’ve been pretty healthy since. As healthy as you can be when your body’s being beaten up solidly by chemo, anyway.
The official radiologist report came back yesterday. When I opened it, I saw in the findings that the tiny nodules they noted before were still there but smaller, and that this represented “therapeutic response of pulmonary metastases.”
I called the doctor back. How could this be? When the primary tumor and metastatic cancer in the lymph nodes either disappears completely or is shrunk by half, how do 3 teeny tiny nodules in my lungs not respond by going away?
The MOST important thing she said was, “All the radiologist has to go on when they read your scans is that you have/had cancer. They don’t have the clinical picture. They don’t see the patient. As clinicians, we have the bigger picture and use those scans to help us measure what’s going on with the disease.”
She went on to say, “What we’re looking for with this scan is to make sure that there is no new disease or that the nodules we saw before aren’t getting bigger.”
The plan? For now, we do nothing. In 6 months, I’ll have another CT to check them again.
This makes sense. My fears are coming from the fact that I’m still coming to grips with the idea that I have a disease that is going to eventually kill me. I am not sure I could handle finding out that it’s already spread well past my lymph nodes and into my other organs or bones, which makes that “kill me” part come faster. I’m not ready for that.