Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hmm . . . Still Pondering That Conversation

Today, I had a check-up with my oncologist. It started out fairly well - every time I see him, they ask me to fill out a form about any medical issues/side effects I may be having. I sat there and thought, hmm, I don't really have any, other than the healing wound and lymphedema. (Got a f#*@in' bee sting yesterday that's sorta making my knee stiff - it's right below my knee - and I want to scratch it!) I've been getting hot flashes, but not too badly. My sleep has been really good this past week or so - I've been sleeping at least 3-hour stretches the past few nights. I have energy. I just have a bit of pain where the lymphedema is, but it's intermittent. So, I wrote on the form, "Hey! It's nice to just have 'normal' problems!" The nurse and my onc chuckled at that.

He looked at the wound and the area that was radiated and he didn't see any signs of cancer and neither did he feel any lumps. Cool.

Then, we looked at my CT scan. I asked him what he meant by some spots being somewhat bigger and how that was related to the healing process. He said that the body is trying to seal off and contain these small colonies of cancer cells that are in my bone marrow, so it takes calcium out of the serum - the circulatory system- and surrounds it with a layer of calcium. Sometimes, cancer pokes out of the calcium shell and starts growing. It didn't look like that was happening in my body as he just saw the calcium spots. So, when a spot does get bigger, sometimes it means that the body is adding another calcium layer on top of what's there.

Zometa makes my bones themselves stronger. By making it stronger, it makes it harder for cancer to lodge in the bone itself. He likened it to a worm going through sandstone versus a worm trying to make a hole in granite. Zometa makes my bones more like granite. Cool. I have no cancer on the bone itself and we want to keep it that way.

I wondered if, in the healing, the body was leaching calcium out of my bones and that made them weaker and he said that that wasn't the case. It's taking calcium out of the serum in the bone marrow. Both cancer and cancer treatments can make bones weaker. But Zometa will take care of that.

I asked about whether or not those calcium deposits (now surrounding dead tumors- at least that's what I think) in my marrow would ever disappear. In his opinion, he feels that they are likely to never go away. Sometimes, the body dissolves those calcium deposits. But not very often.

Bummer. I'd hoped that those buggers would go away. I will continue with my visualization to get rid of them.

I then asked about when someone is considered to be in remission. He said that there are different definitions of remission. The first is when there is no progression of disease, that a plateau of sorts has been reached so that there are no new spots and whatever spots there are aren't getting bigger. That's where I'm at. The second definition is when all the tests show "no evidence of disease". He doesn't feel that I will ever be in that category.

Hmm. Guess I'll have to prove him wrong.

Then, on my way out, I asked about reconstruction surgery. His reply was, "not in your lifetime". (What? That was a surprise to me.) He just didn't think the skin and tissue there would ever be able to handle a surgery like that. At least, that's what I gathered. I told him that my plastic surgeon thought that he could do reconstruction. So, my oncologist said that he'd defer to the surgeon on this one. At the very least, we'd have to be sure that there was no disease left there in the skin before considering surgery.

Okay. That calls for another consultation with the surgeon. I will wait until this wound heals and then schedule that appointment. And give the whole area a few months to be sure that nothing returns in the skin.

Hmm. Guess I'll have to prove my oncologist wrong, again.

Overall, he did say that he was pleased that we'd achieved stable. He seems satisfied with that. But, I'm going for NED. And, reconstruction. Never say never, right?


MisAnthropology said...

Never say never. Conservative doctors like your onc serve a purpose, keeping folks somewhat grounded, and that's fine as long as they don't stand in the way of personal motivation. Of course, you're grounded on you own, and you have about the healthiest does of personal motivation I've ever run across. Keep on keeping on, as they say.

Carver said...

Hi Dee, I agree that you need to have your own goals independent of the docs. I've seen that more than once.

I remember after my mom's stroke the doctors told her she'd never be able to move the foot that was affected but she did indeed move it. My dad was given 1 year at the outside with his congestive heart failure and he turned it into 7.

I know a women who had melanoma spread to her lungs and brain and her prognosis was measured in terms of months after surgery. She has been N.E.D. for 7 1/2 years. I'm sending my thoughts out for you to be in that category of people that keeps doctors humble and aware that they just don't know.

So here's to you dancing with Ned. I'm sure Scott won't mind sharing you with Ned.

Dee said...

Hi Mary,
You're right about my doc, I think. He just doesn't want me to get my hopes up too much and then be disappointed. But I think I'm fairly realistic. Overall, I'm feeling really good.

And, thanks for the compliments, too.

Hi Carver,
I love that - dancing with Ned!! I will definitely tell Scott that he's going to have to share me with that guy. In fact, I think I'll take Ned dancing through my bone marrow when I do my visualization! Love that!

And, I really liked hearing your stories of people who proved their doctors wrong. I like that kind of proof and it's good motivation.

I'm really glad, too, that you are still dancing with Ned. Here's to keeping Ned's dance card as full as possible - Ned will have to clone himself someday, hopefully soon!