Saturday, December 05, 2015

Cancer Coming Attractions

I'm starting to realize that emotionally for me cancer appears to have stages. The first one was the I'm gonna die stage. It started with the moment of my diagnosis, lasted for 2 weeks and was marked by emotional instability, no sleep and the desire to "get my affairs in order". It was an awful time when I didn't want to do anything or see anybody.  There was going to be no further retirement, no new house, no future, no nothing. Cancer and death tinged my every thought.

I'm in the 2nd stage now, acceptance. I have doctors and a plan so I have some confidence that I'm in good hands. Things could be much worse, at least I don't have a gruesome big league cancer like glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM. In this 2nd stage not much has happened. I got a hormone shot and I took some pills and got a mildly invasive back door ultrasound but other than that I've resumed my normal retired life and haven't thought about cancer much. But I sense a gathering treatment storm, I now have so many upcoming medical appointments that I've had to use Google Calendar to track them all.

The 3rd active, invasive and radioactive stage is about to get underway. Soon I'm going in for the internal implantation of gold markers. I was told that it's just like a prostate biopsy (!) except with no snapping sounds (the peeling of the prostate is accompanied by snapping sounds as the harvesting instrument does its back door deeds). That means an experience as close to prison rape as I'd like to get, urinating blood and other jarring side effects. Perhaps carrying the gold markers will be something new to explain to airport security screeners if I get x-rayed by the TSA, assuming that I get through all of this and live to fly again.

Soon after I report to the downtown radiation/oncology center for something that on the phone sounded like a simple consultation session. Then an envelope arrived in the mail containing a flyer with an ominous heading that read, 

An excerpt: "A bean bag mold of your hips will be used to position you in the same way each day. A few tiny, pin point tattoos will be placed on your skin. These tattoos will assist in positioning throughout your daily treatments".  My first tattoos!
The flyer goes on to instruct me about my sit down bathroom habits (they want daily and on schedule production), what to eat to get the desired solid and gas levels, when to pee and how much pee to leave inside for them. "We would like your bladder to be partially full for your CT and each day when you are treated. Please, urinate 30 minutes before your CT and then each day before your treatment time to empty your bladder. Then drink 8 ounces of water or non caffeinated fluid and do not urinate until after your CT or Tx". I don't even know what a Tx is but for all I know I'll be getting one (or more) daily starting before New Year's Day.  Radiation treatments will be daily and last for 5 weeks so hello again daily commute, bring out those lead lined King County Metro buses.
The power of radiation
After all of this will come the 4th stage, one so invasive that anesthesia will be required and when I awake I'll leave sore and with even more radiation. The anesthesia is a good thing, please bomb me back to the stone age if the hands of strangers and their medical tools must enter me there.
Now men have their own unique and manly exam room stirrups
After that the healing can begin and if everything goes according to plan an old home can be sold and a new home purchased and I'll be able to gratefully add cancer survivor to my list of life accomplishments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sending all sorts of loving hugs your way! Susy D