… because it’s my first follow-up MRI since surgery. To bring everyone up to speed: On April 12, I had a seizure that led to the diagnosis of a tumor in my right brain. On April 16, it was surgically removed by Dr. Chicoine at WashU. Pathology and DNA sequencing showed the tumor to be a grade II, type II mixed oligoastrocytoma. As unfortunate as all those details are, it’s worth remembering the silver linings: (1) grade II is much better than grades III or IV, (2) my tumor may be susceptible to chemotherapy, (3) surgery was a gross-total resection, meaning that all apparent tumor was removed. So, at this point, the name of the game is watchful waiting, hence quarterly MRIs to detect if the tumor regrows.
To spare everyone the tension of waiting, I should say that we’re confident that tomorrow’s MRI will be clean, aside from some expected scarring from trauma of surgery. For grade II gliomas, median time to recurrence is 4-8 years based on Smith et al. (2008) J. Clinical Oncology. If 4-8 years is distressing to you, believe me, it’s even more distressing to me. But keep everything in context:
- These stats don’t account for the quality of the surgery I received.
- They certainly don’t account for all the things I’m doing everyday to delay recurrence as long as possible — hopefully forever. I have every intention of being multiple standard deviations on the happy side of the median.
- Even if this thing regrows, god forbid, all weapons are still on the table, including repeat surgery, chemo, and radiation. It’s not my first choice, but many cancer survivors have endured worse.
- Newer and better therapies for gliomas are in the pipeline. We hope that even better drugs will be available if and when I need them.
This is an image of an MRI tube like the one in which I’ll be spending tomorrow morning. It will be an interesting experience — by this point, I’ve had five MRIs, but every one has been while I was either unconscious or doped to the gills on Valium. Needless to say, this will be a good opportunity to practice some visualization / relaxation techniques. For your own enjoyment, I am including my fallback position here, in case I get anxious or claustrophobic: it’s by an Australian group called “Axis of Awesome”. This will be playing in my head while the magnet does its thing.
Jordan as Bono never fails to cheer me up (~ minute 1:45). Anyway, wish me luck tomorrow; I can’t tell you how great it would be to get a clean bill of health, declare the crisis to be over, and get on with real life again. Updates as soon as they’re available tomorrow.