Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Melanoma safecracker

The process of removing mets #16-17 got a little messy this morning. I went to my surgeon unsure if what I felt near my navel were two small nodules or just a single, gnarly one. It turned out there were two, with tendrils from one snaking below the subcutaneous fat. That’s not good. Dr. V cut and cauderized for 20 minutes as he tried to extract as many of the threads as he could find. It’s unlikely that he got them all.

That may or may not matter. In theory, any melanoma cells left after an excision like this could grow and reform into another mass. That hasn’t happened with any of my previous mets, so I’m hoping for the best. Scar tissue will eventually form where my incision is right now, but I should be able to tell if there’s anything beneath it. I’m exquisitely skilled at finding these mets; I have the touch of a safecracker. Our finger tips have the densest concentration of feeling receptors on our body, so my ability to find mets by a laying on of fingers, so to speak, is a God-given talent. I guess that makes me a met-cracker.
I might get some PET/CT backup on this, just to play it safe. Since Dr. V has warned that a recurrence of melanoma in my abdomen would require a trip to the OR and thus some “rearrangement of things,” it’s dumb to not go in with pictures that even my finger tips can’t provide.

So after 16 months, I may yield to the technological imperative and schedule a scan. Today’s office-based procedure was as simple as it gets, but anything done in a hospital is torturously complicated (and expensive). I’ve been there enough to know that’s not where I want this to end up.

By the way, Dr. V didn’t much care for my theory that my flu virus is getting a pass from my immune system because it has the more serious assignment of chasing down cancer cells right now. I find a certain elegance in that thought, but immunology is complicated stuff and there’s no telling what accounts for my feeling out of sorts for days on end. As he put it, “That’s the flu, so get used to it.” In an odd way, melanoma I can get used to, so long as it doesn’t seriously interfere with my running, cyling and other exercise. One of the things I hate most about being sick is losing my conditioning. CycleOregon starts in less than two months and I have some serious training to do.

1 comment:

Thandi said...

All the best with the scan and here's hoping the flu leaves you alone.