Walking up the hill to the local coffee shop I was out of breath. This felt familiar. “Stop being paranoid, you are simply overweight.” The truth is I have not really exercised in over a year. My trips to the gym cut short because of the neuropathy. I am at the upper end of my normal weight fluctuation. Any time I have found myself near this weight life has not been easy. It has served as a reminder to change habits and get myself back into shape. Start the diet. 10,000 steps per day is the goal.
CAT Scan is complete. The normally emotionless nurse who administers the test places her hand on my shoulder and says, “You be well now.” There was tenderness and caring in her voice, her touch, in the entire interaction. It caught me off guard. I have talked with Nancy about her. I have shared about how she is all business, kind of robotic as she goes about her job. This was different. “Stop imagining things.” “Maybe her boss has started to help her get better with patient interactions.”
My CEA was in. I normally wait patiently to get the numbers at my next doctor’s visit. Not this time. I was eager to hear the number. We called to get the results and the normally very responsive nurses did not call right back. We called again and this time got the normal return call. “Your CEA is 2.8, it is in normal range. (up one point but within normal range) Your doctor will go over everything else at your next appointment.” The only thing I was interested in was the CEA…what was this “everything else?”
I walked into the oncologist’s office. Amidst the normal banter of getting signed in there was a different vibe. Angie was in the waiting room, she did not come over to say hi. The nurse taking my vitals did so in unusual quiet.
Markers easily ignored independently. Markers, when viewed together were preparing me to meet with my oncologist.
TWO OUT OF THREE
Dr. Saroha came into my room, all business. “How are you feeling?” Without waiting to hear my answer he turned to Nancy, “How is he feeling?” That is when I knew, when all the markers aligned together and I knew this was going to be interesting.
I was familiar with this pattern of questioning. It came when I was not doing well and he knew I was going to tell him, “oh, I am okay” and Nancy was going to speak truth.
As he sat down I laughed, “Okay, why don’t you tell me how I am doing.” I then told him about being out of breath walking up the hill. I shared that either I was very out of shape, or something was going on inside my body.
He shared that he was pleased with my CEA. It had risen a little but was still within “normal range”. My scan showed that some of the lesions continue to shrink, which is very good. However there is one that has grown, grown significantly. Now, this could be something as simple as bleeding connected to the lesion showing up in the scan or it could be something growing.
In the end what all this means is that two out of three markers (CEA, Scan, how I am feeling) point to something being amiss. For the past year all three have pointed to everything being great and so we have remained on this break from treatment.
My sense is that Dr. Saroha already knows what is going on. He has not been surprised by much on my journey. We have talked about milestones and stages with incredible accuracy. He has done so with grace, compassion and honesty. It is why I appreciate him.
He is talking to the radiation doctor about my case. I go and get my MRI Monday, January 15th. Once reviewed the three of us will finalize our plan of attack.
Dr. Saroha and I talked about possible treatment plans moving forward. If we can treat it with radiation I will most likely go that route. If radiation is not an option I will be back for another round of chemotherapy treatments.
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME, ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD!
THE CARPET PULLED OUT FROM UNDER YOU
No matter what this MRI shows we will journey through this well. God granted strength to navigate life, ministry and such amazingly well last treatment season. I am praying for the grace to walk through this next season with the same peace and strength.
The really odd thing about this is I was just starting to fully feel like myself again. I was moving, working, living like the pre-cancer Dan for the first time. I was becoming effective and efficient in ways that felt familiar and enjoyable. Thinking about the future was filled with hope and possibility. Nancy and I were thinking less and less about Cancer and more and more about life together.
The markers were there. I chose not to see them for what they were. In a few weeks we will know for sure what direction we are heading treatment wise.
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME, ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD! …even when the numbers and scan go in the “wrong direction”.