[cancer] What the clean CT scan does and does not mean

My CT scan came back clean yesterday, as noted here: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]. I am overwhelmed both by the news, and by the good wishes that have poured in via my blogs, Twitter and Facebook. As I said yesterday, I was practically in tears with relief.

Let me talk a bit about what this does and doesn’t mean. While the clean CT is profoundly good news, it’s only a step on a long, difficult and dangerous road. As a practical matter, it means I won’t be going right back into treatment in the first quarter of next year. That in turn means I can focus on being a parent to [info]the_child. It means I can do the required revisions on Calamity of So Long a Life, and at a minimum, get ginned up for the initial drafting second Sunspin book, The Whips and Scorns of Time. It means I can hit a couple of conventions in Pacific Northwest, if the money holds up.

It does not mean I am healthy, or out of the woods on cancer. Every four months for the next two years (I think) I have to be rescanned. After that it drops to every six months. Each time I hit a scan threshold, we’re looking again for metastases. And recall that I’ve metastasized twice now, both times about a year after the prior presentation. Primary cancer was diagnosed in April of 2008, the lung metastasis was first detected in April of 2009 on a CT scan, and the liver metastasis was detected in April of 2010 from a spike in my CEAs. So being clean now might only mean that the next metastasis hasn’t gotten big enough to be detected. Next April’s scan is going to be a huge emotional wall.

I get my life back, for now. Most of the time between now and April I’ll be spending recovering from chemo, so it’s not like I’ll be 100% Jay before we hit the next checkpoint. But at least I’m out from under the swordspoint for a while. Profound relief, tempered heavily by a suspicious watchfulness for the future.

And the present ain’t no great shakes. I’ve gone the last two nights with serious sleep deficits. My bowels have been liquid for eight days straight, which is getting very old. That’s also giving me a serious aversion to eating; I don’t think I managed 1,000 calories yesterday. Three more chemo sessions to go, with everything that entails. It’s a damned tough road. But the clean scan — that’s a step in the right direction. I’m looking forward to not living in fear and dread for a while.

7 thoughts on “[cancer] What the clean CT scan does and does not mean

  1. Pat Cadigan says:

    I missed the original announcement. Really happy for you!

  2. Laura R. says:

    As one who’s been there, looking forward and taking care of yourself are the best things you can do for yourself. I’ll be pulling for you.

  3. Grant K says:

    I’m pretty damned happy for you, Jay and I hope I get to see you soon.

  4. Harald Striepe says:

    Good progress!

    I ended up eating by the clock, and mostly the same stuff. Soft boiled egg and toast with honey for breakfast at 7am, lunch at 1pm with specific items, dinner at 7:30pm. Lots of mild curry, which I somehow liked and could hold down. But the “by the clock” regimen helped, even when I did not care about the food, or the sometimes rapid results. But I did manage to keep weightloss after the initial 20 lbs to a minimum.

    Never stopped the breakfast routine somehow, even after the “all clear” for two years. But man, the weight sure came back easy after being off chemo…

    Quite the problem to have! Hopefully will be yours, too, real soon now 😉

  5. Cora says:

    I missed the first announcement, but I still wanted to let you know that I’m very happy for you.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything continues to go well.

  6. Paul says:

    I missed the original announcement too. Congratulations to you. May the good news continue.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hi Jay! A good friend of mine just turned me onto your blog. I am going thru the same thing. 3rd time for me as well and we even got our scan results the same day. So glad you will get a break soon from the infusions. The scans for me are the scariest, hardest part of the whole remission process…be strong. Peace, Jen

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