[cancer] Beginning the journey, again

Life is so damned circular.

Last Friday I received the carcinoembyronic antigen (CEA) bloodwork via the online records system from my clinic. It indicated a spike of well over 400% in my CEA levels. I didn’t see a rise in my CEA levels with either of my previous tumors — they’d always been pretty flat.

In other words, scary stuff.

I called into the oncology clinic to ask for an immediate appointment to discuss this. My oncologist was out of town and unavailable, and while I did speak to an oncology nurse-practitioner, she couldn’t tell me much without clearing it with my absent doctor. While I suppose I could have gone over there and camped in their lobby and made enough of a nuisance out of myself to get someone to talk to me authoritatively, I decided not to.

Instead I spent the weekend wondering if I had a metastatic bloom, or something worse.

Monday morning, my oncologist released the CT scan notes to me. At this point, unfortunately, I know how to read those things. They were quite clear about the tumor in the right lobe of my liver. By that time, this was good news, given some of the things I could have been facing.

So by the time I went in to the oncologist, I’d been through the emotional shock and some of the initial logical parsing of this. As a friend said yesterday, it’s like the old joke about the cat on the roof. Although that information release process really pissed me off at the time, in retrospect it was probably a good thing. I do question the wisdom of releasing such results to a patient without the attendant advice and counseling, but that horse is out of the barn.

What it boils down to is that this is a surgically addressable, single-site metastasis. (Which we will be confirming via PET scan tomorrow while also looking for ‘seeds’ that might indicate a metastatic bloom in the liver or elsewhere.) We know how to get these. This one won’t kill me. It plays hob with my long-term odds, but this isn’t the long slide into darkness. Not this time.

I’m not so much afraid this time as pissed off. I’ve realized that’s because I’m in familiar territory.

The things I never meant to learn. I’ve been to this rodeo before, and I’m fucking tired of it.

More to come, doubtless a lot of it.

13 thoughts on “[cancer] Beginning the journey, again

  1. Kathryn says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. I don’t think I could face cancer again. Much strength and a surrounding of good friends will ease your path.

  2. BJ Muntain says:

    Jay, I’ve been following your story. I’m sorry this happened, but I just want to say you are one of the strongest people I’ve seen. I am glad it looks to be less scary than you thought, and easier to deal with.

    Thoughts are with you.

  3. Dawn says:

    My dad’s been dealing with this too, and it’s crazy how it keeps going in circles but as weird as it sounds… circles are better than it could have been 20 years ago.

    Hang in there, keep fighting. There are brilliant men and women searching for a cure. They’ll find it. Just hang in there.

  4. Donnie says:

    Well, I’m sorry and congratulations.

    It’s hard to know which shitty “hang in there, kitty” cliche to use in times like this, because it’s one of those rare situations where the language fails to be representative of the sentiment (any writers around???)

    I am glad to hear that this is treatable and sorry that it sounds like it will not only be unpleasant, but repetitive. Sounds like my writing.

    There’s a Kafka quote I always remember when I get news like this. I draw comfort from it, I don’t know if anyone else ever does.

    “Don’t despair, not even over the fact that you don’t despair. For, just when it seems that all is lost, new forces come to your assistance after all. Just that, means that you are alive.” – Franz Kafka

    Julia and I have circled our calendars for JayCon. So hang in there, kitty!

    1. Jay says:

      Thank you, sir. I look forward to seeing you guys.

  5. Siobhan says:

    I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts, Jay.

  6. Carol Berg says:

    Wishing you all strength and tolerance and good humor to get through another round.

  7. Anthony says:


    I was out of the loop for most of the weekend (extended to Monday for me) so I just caught up. Sorry that once again cancer is invading — but I am glad that it sounds like this time, at least, you can get at it and get it out quickly. Will there be any kind of chemo to follow up the surgery, or will that depend on the results of searching for other mets?

    1. Jay says:

      More chemo post-surgery, but they may switch formulations depending on how responsive the tumor was.

  8. Ellen Klages says:

    This blows. I’m so sorry. Will cross fingers and light candles and think good thoughts. If I can do anything more useful, just ask.

  9. Ellen Datlow says:

    Oh Jay,
    How frightening to not know what was going on. I’m relieved for you that it’s not as bad as you imagined and wish you the best in conquering the beast. Which you will.

  10. Charles Dowdy says:

    Wishing you continued strength…. and some peace of mind and heart.

  11. Lisa Harrigan says:

    Yes, the Damn Not Again Syndrome.
    *hugs* and prayers and hoping this doesn’t take too much out of your life.
    *more hugs*

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