[cancer] Now is the summer of our discontent

Well, the PET scan result yesterday was confusing. On Monday, when we met with the oncologist, she was quite convinced this was a metastasis. My oncologist is not an excitable person, she always hedges. This time she didn’t. Then the PET on Tuesday showed the growth in my liver failing to exhibit the high level of metabolic activity associated with tumors.

A few things I know, or reasonably assume here.

  • This is not the same place as last year’s liver anomaly (several people have asked me that). The old (and still existing anomaly) is buried in the right lobe. The suspected metastasis is in the left lobe.
  • The liver is in the metastatic pathway for colon cancer, along with lungs and the lymphatic system.
  • The logical assumption is this is a metastasis, and CT scan was highly indicative of this. So the PET scan is a puzzler.
  • It would be one heck of a coincidence if I had spontaneously developed a cyst or other liver issue in this timeframe. A welcome coincidence, but very weird.

Once I get a consult with the liver surgeon, I’ll know more, but my current understanding is that we’ll go ahead with the surgery, then rely on the biopsy to guide what comes next. I find it improbable this is not a metastasis, but the evidence is showing mixed.

Weirdly, in some ways this new ambiguity is more upsetting to me than simply being on the path to another round of surgery and chemo has been. That says a lot more about the quirks of my psychology than it does about medical science.

calendula_witch and I spent quite a bit of time yesterday discussing the implications of all this. I am feeling very vulnerable, all too aware of my own mortality. If this proves out to be a met (which is still my belief), my survival odds have taken another nose dive. They’re already pretty spooky, but I do understand the difference between statistics and prognosis.

My fear — and here I am talking about emotional reactions, not logic or sound medical judgment on anyone’s part, least of all mine — is that this cancer will continue to be aggressive, and throw mets faster than we can treat them with surgery and chemo; that I’ll spend the next few years grinding myself to pieces trying to catch up to something that’s killing me slightly faster then we can cure it; that I’ll become too sick to work, too sick to write, and within a few years, too sick to go on living.

I recognize I’ve had all of this news less than forty-eight hours, and mental/emotional whiplash twice already, once with the Monday consult and again with the PET result. This is no time for me to be drawing firm conclusions or making major decisions. Yet the New Zealand/Australia trip impends, Endurance is due, my life hurtles onward, and everything is inflected by this problem.

Ugly mysteries, life and death stakes, colliding schedules and commitments. If I were a character in a book, this would be fascinating. Living through it, not so much…

Good thing I’m seeing my therapist today. Gee, I wonder if we’ll have enough to talk about?

9 thoughts on “[cancer] Now is the summer of our discontent

  1. deborahb says:

    Jay Dude. … 🙁

  2. pelican says:

    Medically interesting … the one kind of interesting no one ever wants to be.

    I can understand uncertainty being worse than “clear” bad news … when things are uncertain, it’s harder for me to shift from worry mode into fight mode.

    Thanks as always for sharing your process with such grace and courage.

  3. Leon says:

    “It would be one heck of a coincidence if I had spontaneously developed a cyst or other liver issue in this timeframe.”

    From what you’ve written about your cancer so far, it has thrown you a lot of strange against-the-odds type of curve-balls and coincidences. I understand why you want to be prepared for the worst, but I’m going to hope — really hard — that this thing has finally thrown you a coincidence in your favor.

  4. The John Cleese quote from CLOCKWISE seems to apply here:

    “It’s not the despair, Laura. I can stand the despair. It’s the hope!”

  5. Diana says:

    Jesu. You have Schroedinger’s cancer :/


  6. stevie says:


    My daughter, who is a very junior doctor, tells me that when she and other medics say ‘I don’t know’ about a prognosis, she and other medics really mean ‘I don’t know’, as opposed to ‘I know but I’m not going to tell you because it would depress you’. The numbers are the numbers but no-one has a clue which person within those numbers is the one to live and which is the one to die.

    And yes, coincidences do happen, and there’s always multiple possible diagnoses, though in your case it probably isn’t lupus. But if it isn’t glowing like a met than the logical conclusion is that it’s not a met until someone proves otherwise.

    I have a disease which will kill me in the end, unless I get run over first; pan-resistant mucoid pseudomonas colonising anyone’s lungs is going to kill them in the end, but so far it hasn’t taken me down. I understand your fear that:

    ‘I’ll spend the next few years grinding myself to pieces trying to catch up to something that’s killing me slightly faster then we can cure it’

    even though I don’t have a possibility of a cure, short of bilateral lung transplants, which are quite properly usually given to people much younger than me. The psychological process works in much the same way.

    Each time I emerge from hospital I have my life back, even if I did have to then spend another fortnight in bed because my temperature was still spiking. All I can say is that humans have a quite remarkable ability to live, as opposed to existing, and you seem to be doing pretty well on the living frount…

    1. Jay says:

      Hi. Thanks for the kind and thoughtful comment. I do know the doctors aren’t yanking my chain. My oncologist is still aiming for a full cure in my case, in fact.

      Whatever is in my liver, I want it out and pathed, yanno? Then we’ll know what to do next.

  7. Jacq says:

    Best Wishes for a good result from Down Under. With what you have been through, I am amazed that you are still doing as much as you do. It makes me feel ashamed of myself (I have several chronic disease problems that washed me out of full time employment over 20 years ago, but that’s nothing compared to cancer and chemo) as I seem to get absolutely NOTHING done on a regular basis! I am crossing my fingers for you that the surgery results in good news. I shall implore the Powers That Be on your behalf!

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