[cancer] Lies, damn lies and statistics
Yesterday’s consult did not go well. Further consideration of the scans divulged some new information (well, new to me at any rate). I’ve got the two masses on the liver, a suspected lung tumor, and we’re back to assuming full lymphatic involvement. The lung information was new to me.
I have an oncologist appointment Friday to discuss assessments and treatment paths, and I’m still waiting for the second opinion response from UCSF. Next step is (likely) liver surgery either in early July or early August — the timing is under discussion based on further diagnostics of the lung site and the lymph sites. That surgery will be comparable to my surgery of last year, with me fully out of commission for two weeks or so, and on reduced duty for a while after.
Four to six weeks after liver surgery, otherwise commencing directly sometime this summer, I’ll embark on a six month chemo course. (ie, Even if the surgery doesn’t happen, the chemo will.) The details of this will become clearer after Friday’s appointment. Midway through the chemo course, I’ll have renewed medical imaging to check the progress of the tumors. Plans may change based on those outcomes.
This is not fully confirmed, as there has been no tissue diagnosis yet. There’s a slim chance that some (or even all) of this is mistaken. For example, the spot on my lung may be an old pneumonia scar. However, given my personal history and that fact that we know the liver masses are novel, as they did not appear on last year’s scan, everything has to be assumed high risk unless proven otherwise.
What this boils down to is that the cancer is migrating through my lymph system and metastasizing where it will. This was probably true last year, but it wasn’t detectable on last year’s scans.
Statistically, given our current understanding, optimistically I’m in the 30%/5-year survival rate group. That’s statistical, not based on my personal health, etc., though it’s still very real. As my doctor said, “You’re either 0% or 100%. No one is 30% dead.” I am likely a much better risk than that, but that’s the bucket I’m in. I’m (relatively) young, I’m not particularly multifactorial, I’m highly motivated with excellent emotional and social support structures.
But still, you’d have much better odds at the craps table in Vegas than you would betting me to show up at WorldCon in 2014. (Hmm, maybe I should start making book. Would it be tacky to run my own dead pool?)
Scared? You bet. Angry? Hellaciously. But I have to do what I have to do.
Once we know a little more about treatment paths, I’ll start changing my convention and writing plans as needed. I’m not going to let this get me, and if it does, it will have to drag me kicking and screaming all the way.
For a while, I’m going to spend some time being the sickest son of a bitch in North America. But first, I write. I’m going to start drafting Endurance this weekend. If I can’t wrap the draft before surgery or the onset of chemo (whichever comes first), I’ll finish the book once I’ve stabilized sufficiently on the chemo to work again.
Because I am a writer. A dad. A lover. A friend. But most of all I am alive.
And we all know statistics are damned lies anyway.
Posted: 5:11 am Wed June 10 2009 |