Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Test Down, Rest Of My Life To Go

Thursday, 11/3/2011 was my first CT scan since finishing radiation treatment on 8/3/2011.  I'll get these CT scans every three months for the first year.  I was pretty worried about this, I mean, I knew the cancer was almost certainly gone and there shouldn't have been anything to worry about; but that was true this past June when I had my first CT scan after surgery and chemo.  But at that June scan the cancer had come back, so naturally I was concerned the same might be true this time.

Well I needn't have worried.  The scan showed the tumor was completely gone and there were no signs of cancer remaining.  That's the first time since this ordeal started in June of 2010 that a test has shown I no longer have cancer.  It's hard to explain just how that feels to write.  Great, obviously, but something deeper than that too.  To borrow a phrase from the 1960s hippies, it feels heavy.

This latest test was at 10 am on a Thursday in Sibley Hospital.  At 11 am in the same hospital, just a different building, we had a follow up with the doctor who treated me with radiation (Dr. Sibley, no relation).  He opened the scan results on the computer in front of us (the first time any of us had seen these pictures that were just taken) and then he pulled up the images from June and did a side-by-side comparison.  One side showing the tumor in my abdomen back in June, the other showing that same location in my abdomen from the photos taken just an hour earlier.  The images looked identical, save for the fact that there was a 2 cm mass in the June photo which was missing from the image taken that morning.

I had planned to go to work after the tests were run, thought I'd be in by 1 pm.  Well both Julie and I were feeling pretty emotional, which seems natural to me now.  But when I'd made the appointment I thought it would just be relief and then back to work, but like I said in an earlier paragraph it hit me deeper than I'd imagined.  So instead of work we went to lunch in our neighborhood, then sat at home on our laptops connected to our offices and worked from home.  It wasn't much of a day off I suppose (especially when I had to burn a vacation day, but still billed four hours of work) but I needed to spend the day with woman I love next to me.  It was worth it.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, of course, it's only been three months.  I don't expect the cancer to come back, but it has before so I have to accept that it could come back again.  I have another CT scan in three months, and then three months after that, and so on.  The scan that will be the most worrisome to me (after this first one) will be the one at the 1 year mark, August of 2012.  It was 1 year after my original treatment in June of 2010 that the cancer came back (my first CT scan after surgery and chemo).  So that 1 year mark is the big hurdle up ahead for me.