Jay Lake: Writer

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[Cancer]

[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.

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