Rather than agreeing to the “wait and watch” approach to the new mass that lit up in my last couple of PET scans, I sought a second opinion. The “Tumor Board” (a group of doctors specializing in cancer treatment) at Kaiser-Permanente reviewed my case and recommended surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radiation/chemo or straight chemo. Sounded like a plan to me! Despite the saying, “all good things come to those who wait,” methinks this doesn’t apply to tumors. Untreated tumors seem to just get bigger, and I have no desire to have a large, obstructive tumor inside my neck pushing into my throat and major bundles of nerves.
I checked in for surgery on Tuesday, 4/17 at 5:30am. Despite the hour, Joanie got her sleepy, caffeine-deprived spouse to the hospital right on time. I have no memory even of being wheeled into the O.R., so the drugs they gave me seemed plentiful and strong. After a night spent in the hospital on heavy antibiotics and more pain pills, then a bout of extreme nausea finally controlled with more drugs, Joanie took me home to spend the rest of the week recovering. Aside from the usual side effects of the anesthesia and pain medications, which wreak havoc with my digestive system, I emerged on the other end of the week eager to return to work. I haven’t been so delighted to drive to work on a Monday morning in eons. It was truly wonderful to be back; not nauseated, not in pain and reasonably alert.
The biopsy revealed that the tumor had grown since March and was metastatic adenocarcinoma; a new variety of lung cancer for me (my other tumors have been squamous). Despite variety being the spice of life, glad that the nasty little bugger is out! To zap any lingering cells, next is more concurrent radiation/chemotherapy beginning in June. This gives more time to enjoy having energy, hair, and a quick road trip to the Indie 500 with my wife and dogs. (My wife is a huge Indie-car fan.)
I wish there were a button to slow down the clock until new treatment begins. I want to savor every minute of feeling healthy and happy with my life…even the frustrating parts. This disease has made clear what I suspected all along: feeling all the way alive isn’t something one should wait too long for.