Just about this time last week I was lying, sedated, on an operating table awaiting my third-ever bronchoscopy. I wasn’t very worried about the outcome, pretty much accepting further treatments would be needed if the primary tumor were found to be active. I didn’t realize I wasn’t allowing myself to imagine the best possible outcome.
Which is why news Dr. Goy phoned me with Tuesday morning completely stunned me: NO sign of malignancy. The tumor discovered over a year and a half ago apparently succumbed to treatment. No cancer cells were found; neither floating around in the fluid extracted from the bronchial wash, nor lurking in the three tissue samples taken from the site of the tumor. And, the only thing that lit up in my March PET scan was the lymph node they removed in April. I’m not certain that I’m cancer-free, but it’s looking pretty hopeful.
My first reaction to Dr. Goy’s call was to burst into tears. Then, I was afraid to be too happy. What if telling people the good news made the cancer come back? Then I’d look foolishly optimistic. I could imagine people whispering, “Poor dear, she was so hopeful, but look what happened!” When I caught myself formulating these thoughts, I gave myself a psychic whap on the head and posted the news to my best friends on Facebook. The stage of lung cancer I have is generally incurable; it may very well recur. I have no control over whether or not it’s gone for good. While I won’t be tossing out my headscarves just yet, for now we’re celebrating!
My wife is ecstatic, and says she’s looking forward to watching my hair turn white as we grow old(er) together. I’m relieved to have “radiation with concurrent chemotherapy” off my summer to-do list, unless future scans deem it necessary. I wasn’t aware of being worried about my prognosis, but I must say I’m feeling more relaxed in one sense. In another sense, I’m finding reserves of energy I haven’t known in years. I seem to be taking on even tedious tasks with a modicum of gusto. Without the limitations imposed by summer cancer treatments, that to-do list just got longer…and a lot more fun to tackle.