(Quotes in the title used intentionally.)
Drumroll please... and, the biopsy shows...
...wait for it...
Nothing. The biopsy results are inconclusive. After the last five days of waiting, now I have more waiting ahead of me.
To say that I'm frustrated is an understatement. I went down to the clinic at 9 this morning with Mom and Andrew, and truth be told, I was feeling pretty good. Mom and I had a long talk last night about how I really wasn't too concerned with the details -- just tell me what I have but really, let me know how I'm going to kick ass all over it to the tune of Tyson-Spinks back in '88. Don't give me any of the negative "You can't do this" crap, just tell me what I have to do, and I'll do it.
So here we are, a day later, with very few details more than we had last week. But there is some new info, so I will lay it out for you.
First off, there's no sugar-coating this baby in my stomach. It's huge. It's not an "oh my lord, it's the size of a golf ball" type of thing -- no, it's magnitudes bigger. It's in my stomach and waist and knocking around my intestines and most importantly, as Dr. Cecchi (the oncologist) drove home again and again, it's invaded my liver. And that's the big deal here.
We knew it had moved into the liver, but Dr. Cecchi's analysis is that its presence in there is a major complicating factor. We still don't know what kind of cancer it is yet -- the very likely culprits are still some sort of malignant sarcoma, but we're not sure -- but its invasion into the liver means that if it's a sarcoma, it's not going away, ever. It's in my liver for good, and that means that whatever the outcome here, I won't ever truly be 'cured' of cancer (until medical technology catches up enough to find a cure for this).
This is not a good thing, but it's not the end of the world. More on this in a moment.
The other complicating factor, according to the good Doc, is that if it's a sarcoma, it could have spread by blood to other parts of my body. To this end, he's ordering an MRI and PET scan to check out my brain and some other organs. I haven't had any brain issues that I know of (other than to blurt out some of the real jackass things that pop into my mind from time to time, and embarrass myself completely) and I feel great, but who knows what the scans will show. We'll just have to wait and see on that one.
So now you're probably thinking, "So, uh, where's the good news in all this?" Well, there is good news in its own way. First off, as blunt as he was (and that's his job), Dr. Cecchi made it clear that there are solutions here. First off, he wants to surgically cut out as much of the mass as he can. I'm really digging this concept -- would love to just get this crap out of my body immediately and then get down to the nitty-gritty of treating the remaining tumors with radio and chemo. Let's carve most of this away and pound on the rest until I'm in remission -- that's a scenario I like.
Not only that, but he didn't beat around the bush when Andrew asked him one-on-one what the timetables were for me on this one. Andrew did a similar thing with my GP last week -- asked him straight up if I was going to start having to count my remaining time in months or weeks -- and got the same answer from Doc Cecchi as he did last week: no, it's not about that. It's about exploring all our options, getting rid of this invader, and surviving. There are no other acceptable alternatives and neither doctor has proferred anything resembling a prognosis with the word 'terminal' attached to it.
The last bit of good news? Well, it's a stretch, but who knows -- the biopsy isn't confirmed, and maybe, just maybe, it's a much more treatable form of cancer that will leave me cured when all is said and done.
And, the capper -- we'll still be discussing this with the folks at Stanford, and they may (or may not) have some other solutions to offer. We'll see.
As for the Big Picture, well, it goes without saying this will be tough -- the hardest thing I ever have or ever will face. And if I have to spend the rest of my life with the proverbial Sword of Damocles over my head, living in remission and going in to check up every 3-6 months to see if I'm still healthy -- so be it. As I said above, living with cancer in remission is better than the alternative, so it's not the end of the world. And believe me that I'll be fighting to get to that point, through hell and high water.
I've received so many phone calls, emails and texts today asking about the results. If I haven't gotten back to you, don't worry and don't ever take it personally. Just know that I got your message, it means the world to me, and every bit of support boosts me up in this fight. I will end up speaking to you sooner rather than later, when things cool down a bit.
By the way -- a new drug hit my personal arsenal today, some Vicodin, to help with the stomach pain. The stomach has felt pretty good up until last night, but the tumor must have shifted because I couldn't sleep on my back too well. Between that and the Xanax, to quote a sorta-famous song from the Sixties, I've been Feelin' Groovy today.
I have a consultation with the surgeon on Thursday so I will let you know more then. Keep those emails and messages coming -- they are my life blood.
With much love,