I had another surveillance MRI today, and it came back clean. As we expected. The nearby image shows a comparison of today’s scan and October’s: no major differences, although the contrast was brighter today or perhaps more efficiently taken up. In any case, nothing to worry about. The next checkpoint will be early June, so they’re backing off to every 4-month surveillance from every 3-month. I’m interpreting that as progress. If you’re counting, I’ve had 4 consecutive clean MRIs dating from my first one immediately after surgery. That’s a fair winning streak.
I know that many people with my condition hate these checkpoints; I sat with one gentlemen in the waiting room who was three years out from his initial diagnosis and was eloquent about how he dreaded these MRIs. I sympathize entirely, but honestly, I wasn’t worried about this one. Cancer is awful, and we can’t control everything it does, but it’s a physical disease like any other and must follow certain rules. In my case, I know the statistics and most of the cell biology, and both my intellectual judgement and inner conviction was that I would have another clean MRI. Plus, I was wearing my lucky underpants.
The worst part of these days is the return to being a patient: the endless repetition of one’s full name and birth date, the blood pressure cuffs, the god-awful waiting room music, the hospital gowns, the smell of sterile IV tubing hanging out of your arm. The smell is the worst; it evoked all the memories of the three weeks I spent in hospitals last year – memories on which I consciously avoid ruminating.
Speaking of smells, while I was in the changing room in radiology, getting into my slinky and sexy hospital gown, the elderly gentleman in the room next to me had the misfortune of soiling his pants, resulting in much bustle among the nurses and technicians.
Recently, I’ve been talking with some friends that were diagnosed with cancer, and I find a common theme: the first visit to the oncologist’s office sucks. There are many reasons for this – cold clinical detachment about your disease being at the forefront – but there’s also another level where your brain rebels at the thought that you have a life-threatening disease. Part of you screams “I don’t belong here.” Behind the curtain in the changing room, listening to the beehive of activity next to me, I had a vivid flash-back to the first time I indulged in that thought. Happily, I get another reprieve from cancer, and I don’t have to be a patient for a while. This time for 4-months.
After my next MRI, I’m going to start writing my book. It will be a recount of my experiences plus a popular-science discussion of cancer (especially brain cancer) and the means by which its ultimate eradication will be realized. In the next week or so, I’m going to post another column soliciting feedback on my blog and people’s thoughts about which topics should be given priority.
Until then, I’m enjoying the weekend by taking Sophie et al. out to look at birds: