November 10, 2017

It has been four months since I last checked in. “No news is good news”, right? Yes. Yes it is! Things on the cancer front are about as good as they’re ever going to get. Any lingering side effects should probably be considered permanent, but they’re under control 90% of the time, sooooo… other than regular bouts of “scanxiety” wondering if/when the other shoe is going to drop… this really is the “new normal” life.

A very reliable source recently told me: “You are now falling into the statistical plateau of survival plots. Our long term tracking of patients such as yourself show that to be a mathematical fact.” This was followed with the note of caution: “Of course there is always ‘someone’ out there who ruins our statistics… so close vigilance is still the strategy… especially since you have always been the pain in the a** outlier to everything in the text book.” Who wants to be “text book” when you can be the statistical deviant? Right? LOL! Actually… in the event that karma is reading, I do want to remain a stable statistic in this case. Let’s not ruin anyone’s math. Glass mostly full… I still have a shot at going out in more epic style! Squashed in a bunny stampede? Seeing a critter baby do something SOOO cute that my heart simply can’t handle it?

On that warm and fuzzy note… here’s what’s news —-

BRAIN: Well let’s see… since I last left off updates in June, we were watching two tid bits. 6 mm “Mike” was camped out in the right frontal gyrus, and 3 mm “Joey” was chillin’ in the left occipital lobe. Mike showed some slight improvement on June scans, being noted as ‘decreasing to 4-5 mm, with slightly decreased edema’. Joey, who made his reappearance on the scene in March, was relatively unchanged. Same old “boring” good news.

Jump ahead to late August, and we find that Mike has somehow disappeared. Whaaaaat!? Yup… he’s gone. After camping in my

cranium for 17 months, he just POOF… went away. Not gonna lie, I had finally resolved myself to the fact that this little dude was possibly a permanent resident. I sat there for a moment squinting in disbelief. Surely they missed him. He somehow got overlooked… right? I needed to see the scans for myself. Weird, but true… Mike really did go away! There was additional confirmation of this on my latest scan, done just last week. My right frontal gyrus is unoccupied and NORMAL!

Here’s the geek speak: “No new enhancing lesion is identified. Stable 2-3 mm left occipital focus of enhancement with stable mild perilesional surrounding T2 hyperintensity. Multiple previously treated areas of disease again seen, showing areas of old blood products and/or focal volume loss.” In normal people words: “Nothing new is growing in there. Joey is still kickin’ back in the left occipital, being well behaved. Judging by all these brain scabs, this chick has had a boatload of radiation… but it’s all cool right now.”

The latest “clean” scan makes for 20 months of trouble free cranial mush! My brain genius has officially lengthened the leash. I won’t need to have my head examined for another 3 months! That’s a refreshing change from back in the day, when scans were every 4 weeks, followed (nearly EVERY time) by gamma. How will I ever get to know my doc’s new incoming minions?

BODY: As the case has been since roughly January 2015… “No pathological appearing abdominopelvic adenopathy. No new worrisome findings to indicate metastasis from known melanoma”. I don’t believe I’ve ever actually seen the words “No evidence of disease” (NED) on any of my reports… ever. Sometimes I wonder if docs and radiologists ever use that terminology anymore. I guess I’ll accept “No new worrisome findings”.

I will forever have the “essentially stable 2 small right pulmonary nodular scars versus nodules”……. Yup, that’s where the lobe was detached. I also seem to have at least one ovarian cyst at all times. They switch from left to right, and even sometimes show up on both sides in the same scan. Perhaps when I run out of eggs, those little buggers will stop being a recurring theme. The “presumed transient non-obstructive intussusception of the left jejunum” has resolved once again. Yay for my guts unfurling! On the more interesting side of things, my pancreatic cyst has seemingly decreased in size (from 18 mm to 16 mm). Yet another little oddity that I had resigned to living with as a harmless permanent resident. Dare I have renewed hope that it too will suddenly go away as “Mike” did?

We’ll take another peek at my innards… aaaand into my brain… in early February. The next surface check comes around a bit sooner. Vigilance to remain within the mathematical confines of statistics… because, I’d rather go out crushed under fuzzy bunny feet!