Joan and I celebrated my “18 months since diagnosis” anniversary while on the road to Indianapolis. Now that we’re back from our road trip, I’m raring to hop back on the cancer recovery trail. Today my radiation oncologist met with me to discuss next steps. Happily, there’ll be no more radiation until he’s sure there’s a tumor left to radiate. Recent PET scans show faint glowing in the area of my primary tumor. It could be pneumonitis from last year’s radiation. Or, it could be cancer.
To find out what’s going on, Dr. Goy has ordered another bronchoscopy. While they’re in there, they’ll take a biopsy if there’s anything to biopsy. If not, they’ll use a bronchial wash to check for cancer cells. I hope to be unconscious during all of this. My last bronchoscopy demonstrated how much I don’t enjoy having a tube shoved up my nose.
Perhaps because my wife wasn’t along, Dr. Goy was quite frank about the survival rate for lung cancer. A year and a half ago, we had to drag the rather bleak prognosis out of him. I mentioned another doctor’s comment that nobody with stage 3B lung looked as healthy as I do, he concurred. He practically said, “(Hell, yeh), most people die within 12 months after diagnosis. Some live to 18 months, and only 15-20% are still alive after 3 years. Of course, sometimes things happen that current medical knowledge wouldn’t predict.”
My response to the “dead by 18 months” prognosis: I was never much good at following orders. Apparently, even my cells have a rebellious streak.
So, 18 months and change after my diagnosis, I’m looking forward to grabbing me some summer. There are waves to be boogie-boarded, ribs to slow-grill and friends to feast with before further cancer treatments. And, while it may not be the proverbial “endless summer,” I’m planning on living it like it’s the… BEST. SUMMER. EVER.