Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Indolence as a virtue

Melanoma continues to play the trickster. I was driving to OHSU this morning to have a small subcutaneous nodule on my right forearm removed when I noticed a second one a few inches higher on the back of the arm. I’d felt a bump there before, but figured it was just a mole. Sadly, nothing is what it seems to be with melanoma. In a brief office procedure, my surgical oncologist cut out both of the goobers. They’ll go to pathology for confirmation, but it was pretty clear to both of us what they were. I guess it’s time to reset the NED clock.

Dr. V and his nurse displayed their usual insouciance. This guy is probably an excellent surgeon, but he offers nothing that could be mistaken for patient care. He’s my body mechanic. When I have a leaky valve or my fuel line gets gunked up, he puts me up on the rack and fixes things. We talked briefly today about types and frequency of body scans, and he offered the opinion that you don’t want too many of them on account of cumulative radiation exposure. Right now, I’m scheduled for my next PET/CT scan in six months. Dr. V thinks that’s reasonable given what he called the indolence of my metastatic melanoma. About the only good thing I took away from my appointment was the knowledge that wherever this cancer is going, it’s taking its sweet time. I could actually grow to like this word “indolence.” It makes the laziness of my melanoma seem classy.

Its languid progression also gives me reason to continue this blog. I have the luxury of time to process what’s happening. If my cancer saga fails as high drama, I hope you’ll agree it’s at least as good as reality TV. Just remember that while you only have to read about it, I get to live it. It’s depressing and a little scary to think these “sub-Qs” will likely continue to pop up and that I’m the one who’s supposed to find them. I can understand now why so few women do breast self-examinations as recommended. Who wants to go on a treasure hunt to find something a doctor may want to cut out of you? The alternative to my discovering nodules is that the cancer eventually spreads internally, in which case they’ll be seen first by a radiologist. And then there’s always the possibility that this nightmare will end with my white-hatted immune system ultimately defeating the black-hatted melanoma. I’ve had the last few months to contemplate all of these scenarios. I believe God is giving me this time for a purpose.

The bandages on my arm come off in a couple of days, and the stitches will be removed next week. Aside from bearing a couple more small scars, I’ll soon be no worse for wear. Life goes on.


Steve said...

I think we've all learned many things from your blog, and I for one appreciate being able to read it. Perhaps the knowledge will spare some of us from going through what you have/are. Thanks for giving us an ongoing glimpse at what you face on a daily basis. We keep you in our daily prayers...

Anonymous said...

I am grateful for your passionate,thoughtful,loving observations. I've always admired you, and that grows as I read your words. Bob and I pray for you often.

Peter said...

I won't name him, but a friend sent the following anecdote in response to this post, which is a delightful way of reimagining my recent surgeries.

"When it came to potato preparation in the Thompson household, I remember vividly my grandpa sitting in his vinyl reclining chair with its back up, his left leg sometimes sprawled across the arm of the chair, peeling the evening's spuds into the plastic pan in his lap. He was casually masterful at it, I thought as a kid. One or two long helical peels per potato was all it took; then, without wasting a microgram more of potato than necessary, he went back and extracted each eye in one conical, circular motion. Your Dr. V would be the potato peeler of the melanoma circuit. "Get it out, get it clear, rinse it off, move on." "