Thursday, May 20, 2010

A+ student

Discovering that you have a disease that’s both progressive and incurable can sometimes be cause for celebration. In recent months I’ve developed a mysterious mass in the palm of my right hand that had me worried. Happily, both my dermatologist and oncologist agreed this week that it’s something called Dupuytren’s contracture, and not metastatic melanoma. My recent track record gave me reason to wonder.

Dupuytren’s affects the connective tissue in the hand, eventually forming a thick cord that can pull one or more finger into a bent position. Once this occurs, the affected fingers cannot be fully straightened, which complicates everyday activities like putting on gloves or, um, scratching your bum. Who knows, a bent finger might actually come in handy for reasons I haven’t yet figured out.

Oddly enough, I also have a lump on the bottom of my left foot that bothers me some, but which I suspect is an inflamed metatarsal bone. My docs concur on that. The pain I feel when I walk or run is like having a small stone in my shoe. It’s the sort of garden-variety injury that plague runners, and which may force me to reduce my mileage for a while.

As for the ongoing melanoma watch, my oncologist gave me an A+ when we spoke on Tuesday. He had inspected my recent PET scan and came up with reasonable explanations for several areas of hyperintensity that were noted in the radiologist’s report. So in the absence of any evidence of cancer, I’m proceeding with plans to travel to Britain this summer with Nick. I’ll buy travel insurance just to play it safe.

I’m seeing my dermatologist more frequently these days to make sure anything nasty that I don’t notice on or just under my skin is picked up. Dr. O did identify a suspicious mole on my chest on Monday, but the biopsy results came back negative from the lab. I’d hardly given the mole a second thought when I got the call today. That’s an indication of how blasé you can get after a few years in cancerland.

After a really bad winter, this spring is shaping up surprisingly well. I take every day as a gift, and am amazed to be planning European travel that won’t even start for three months. Of course I’ve been planting trees and shrubs in my garden this spring that I know will outlive me, so there is certainly something to be said for putting down a few roots.

No comments: