Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It's Still Working: 7 Observations After a Clean CT Scan

Back in December 2012, after three rounds of chemo, I had CT scans to gauge the efficacy of the treatment. Were the prescribed drugs having the desired effect? The answer was yes.  And now, nearly two years since that first good scan, I'm happy to say that my latest scans are clean and stable.

  • Today's scans were uneventful -- which is how you want to describe your  medical appointments and plane trips. Three  scans today (pelvis and abdomen, chest, neck, if you're scoring at home) and there was nothing unusual to report.
  • A clean scan is great news, but it doesn't feel like a celebratory kind of thing; in fact, it doesn't feel like a thing at all. It just feels like the way it should be.  
  • The quarterly appointment is a bit of an odd thing, the appointment. By the time, I'm meeting with Dr. L, all the poking and prodding is over. I've had my bloodwork and scans, she's reviewed them with radiologists and consulted my labs. So beyond talking with Dr. L about ibrutinib vs. idelalisib -- two new lymphoma drugs -- most of our appointment was spent discussing Twitter and the Disney show Dog With a Blog (our kids like it.) 
  • I always feel like I'm incognito on appointment day. In the place and buildings that are so reflexively known to me, where I roam freely through the back hallways and shortcuts, where I meet with doctors and scientists as a fellow employee, the moment I swap my employee ID for my patient bracelet, I feel a little out of place.
  • A cancer waiting room is no place for a healthy person. 
  • I didn't realize until driving home the other night how much cancer stole my identity. I've written here many times how the challenge is always to not let cancer define me; it is now an inexorable part of me, but it isn't the sum of who I am. Still, the very idea of having to go to a medical oncologist regularly, it deprives me of the notion I had of myself as the kind of person who doesn't get sick.
  • Now, nearly two years clean, so to speak, I'm beginning to get the faintest glimpse, like a wispy memory of a dream that you can't quite remember, of an identity not dominated by cancer. Now that's something to celebrate.