Oncologist this AM. Dr. Jeff Allerton. The commanding general for the Great Olive Pit War waged in and around my neck during the first half of this year.
Several divisions of the enemy’s wayward, hyper-fecund cells that’d massed on either side of my thyroid gland and another few that’d penetrated a tad southerly, occupying my sub-clavicular regions, were routed by the Allerton-led forces. He was a brilliant commander, even if willing to employ weapons of mass destruction like platinum poison. His second in command, Dr. Fred Wu, led the nuclear forces. Together, like Marshall and Ike, they emerged triumphant, albeit leaving behind a scorched, ravaged battlefield.
It was a year ago today the war began. Sorta — it was the last Friday in 2015 when I first met my radiation team and was led through the videos, the counseling, the lecture that, it was hoped, would prepare me for head and neck chemoradiation treatment. Of, course, nothing can really prepare one for that kind of campaign. Fitting, in any case, my regular follow-up with Allerton should be today.
I’d been worried about this examination because I’d undergone a PET scan a few weeks ago. These cancerous nodes don’t always play fair, you know. The chemoradiation could have stunted them and even made them disappear but they might well have started growing all over again since my last exam. The very possibility that I’d have to go through chemotherapy or radiation or — horrors! — both would crush me.
The minutes couldn’t pass fast enough leading up to my 11:00am app’t.
So, here’s the big reveal, straight from the fridge, daddy-o — or, more precisely, the highlights straight from the radiological imaging report:
‣ [A] whole body PET CT was performed from the skull base through the mid thighs. Additional high-resolution scanning was performed from the upper brain through the neck….
‣ Imaging through the inferior brain is unremarkable.
[MG Note: My brain? “Inferior” and “unremarkable”? The very idea!]
‣ A lymph node present within the retromandibular region on the left previously measured 1.6 cm in greatest dimension and currently measures only 0.9 cm.
‣ No abnormal metabolic activity is present within the neck.
[Aha! There’s the payoff. The docs look for abnormal metabolic activity, a sure sign that ravenous cells are massing and sucking up glucose. Malignant tumors, in other words.]
‣ Impression: There is no evidence for residual or recurrent disease on today’s whole body PET CT.
So, yeah, it’s been a hell of a year. For me. For this holy land. For the world.
Today’s good news makes the transition into 2017 that much more welcome. Perhaps things aren’t ever as bad as they seem.
Then again, as The Loved One and I sat in Hopscotch Coffee enjoying a celebratory kale smoothie, a mutual pal turned up. I shared my good news with her. She began to cry. It turns out she’d been helping her brother struggle with a terrifying metastatic abdominal cancer the last few days. He’s got a long fight ahead of him, one that’ll kick the living bejesus out of him.
Life’s funny that way. It’s mean. It can be downright cruel. Sometimes all we can do is revel in the fact that some horrible malady won’t annihilate us in the immediate future. Sometimes we get to celebrate beating that malady. Here’s to the brother. And here’s to me.
Happy New Year.