Today was a long day. It started (blissfully) with a much-needed massage care of Pat, my amazing therapist. It helped so much, and I'm so grateful for her capabilities, her insight, her intuition. If I could just get her to come to my house each night before bedtime, I'd be all set and I'd sleep like a baby. :)
After some down time, we headed back into the outpatient clinic to meet with my new oncologist, Dr. Kundranda (who will be referred to as Dr. K from here on out because I'm lazy...). We had to say goodbye to Dr. Granick (which makes me sad, even as I type this), who has been an amazing asset to my cancer fighting team. He's going into partial retirement, and I wish him an amazing life full of relaxation and good memories.
Anyways, after some initial discussions with the nurses, etc., we got the whole team in the room.
The good news: I'm healing well from the surgery. All seem to be (honestly) surprised with my ability to recover from this surgery, and my energy level. Well, my attempt at my energy level. You know me - I don't sit/relax/rest well at all. And, I was anxious about the appointment, so I'm sure my adrenaline was sky-high, resulting in a hyper-Michelle.
My CEA level is creeping back down (it's at 2.9...which is definitely not where I want it to be), so that's another good piece of news.
As we talked to Dr. K about my back pain, he expressed some concern that this may not be muscular. His concern right now is that it might be pain caused my metastasis of the cancer to the bones.
I am scheduled for a bone scan on February 14th, and we will get the results on February 18th. If this is indeed mets to the bones, there's a likelihood that I'll end up having radiation to the area.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous or upset. I am. I hate hate hate hate that this may be another recurrence. I am so angry that this cancer keeps trying to come back. I am just heartbroken, because I know that this isn't a good development. If it has indeed spread this far....well, I just know in my heart what that means. I'm not giving up, and I'm not saying that it's the end. But, it's not nearly as good as if they were to say "Hey, you're in remission....congratulations!"
I have to say, I have faith in this new oncologist. He is personable, seems to be a straight shooter, with an innate sense of how to handle to good news as well as the bad. He said that he plans on being very aggressive, but won't run tests or do something that we don't have a valid, legitimate, purpose-filled reason to do. For example, I asked him about the BRCA test that I had blood drawn for a few weeks ago. I've been debating on it, because it's extremely expensive and I wasn't sure (given that the cancer cells were colon, not ovarian) if there was a benefit to it. When I asked him about it today, he said that there is no benefit to doing it (i.e., if it came back positive, it wouldn't change how we proceed today).
He also said that if this is another met, we will continue to be aggressive. If that means that CTCA doesn't have the capability to do what we need to do, he will, in his words, "ship me out" to another place that has what I need. He is going to take a strong approach, but he is also going to only do what's necessary right now, so as to not eliminate all of our options right away. He wants to look at the short-term solution, but he also wants to make sure we're also considering the long-term approach.
I'm absolutely okay with this view.
For the first time in a while, I got emotional in the room. I asked if this means that my cancer has become aggressive, and whether I should be concerned. I liked Dr. K's response. While it was very non-specific, it also acknowledged that this wasn't the best development. He indicated that there's a possibility for looking into clinical trials, when the time comes.
I liked a few more things about him. One of his first questions was around genetics testing - he wanted to make sure that I had had this done, especially because I have kids. LOVE this! He also has experience in dealing with younger colon cancer patients, and acknowledged that he's much more aggressive with us than he would be with, say, and 80-year-old patient. LOVE this, too!
And, he didn't give me an expiration date. He did not give me a time frame, an expectation of how long I have left. He just gave me hope.
I desperately needed that today. I am holding it together fairly well; there isn't much of a choice. I have to keep living my life, and I have too many things that I want to accomplish. I chose to have the bone scan in February because, if this is another met, I can't do anything about it until the middle of February. I would spend the next 3 weeks worrying. I can't do that.
I won't do that.
I have a life to live, and I can't do that if I'm constantly worried about what's going to happen. If I can't do anything about this right now, there's no point in knowing. I know that's avoidance....I call it survival.
For now, I'm going to keep healing. I have some new pain meds that will *hopefully* work. They have me on neurontin (gabapentin), which should help me sleep. I hope.
Today didn't go as I had planned. That's okay. It's another detour, a bump in the road.
I'd give anything for a smooth patch.
But - it's ok. This is my journey. My very long, very productive, very amazing journey.