Here is my fantasy. The PET scan results reveal no cancer. The biopsy was a false read. I am cancer free. That is why it is called a fantasy.
October 18. My entourage is with me for the 3:40 p.m. appointment with Dr. Wang. Steve, Katie and I are sitting in the waiting room when they call my name. We go to the exam room and make a brief stop for the weigh-in. I remove nothing – 101 lbs.
The nurse brings in an extra chair and then does the usual blood pressure, temperature check. After a bit of time, Dr. Wang comes in and we introduce him to Katie.
He pulls up the PET Scan images and slowly goes through each frame—from the top of my head to the top of my thighs. He points out my eyeballs, esophagus, heart and talks about how the radiated sugar attaches to cancer cells and glows. That is also true of anywhere there is fluid like the stomach and bladder. He looks for glowing where it should not glow.
The location that glows is my tumor and one small spot under my arm. The rest of the PET scan is clear. Whew. The cancer appears to be isolated. Encouraging news. At this point it is considered a recurrence of the breast cancer 19 years ago. Mostly due to the close proximity to the original cancer, even though this cancer is not estrogen receptive and the breast cancer tumor was estrogen receptive.
We talk about treatment. He suggests that the surgical removal of the pea-sized tumor under the arm would be relatively simple. But the main tumor—the poorly differentiated carcinoma—attached to the muscle is tricky. There is no one locally he would recommend. UCSF is my best option going forward. What oncologist would I like to be referred to? I just happen to have a name given to me by a doctor friend on my Board of Directors. Oncologist Hope Rugo. Dr. Wang holds Dr. Rugo in very high regard and hopes I can get an appointment with her as she is in high demand. He also wants to refer me to a UCSF breast cancer surgeon. A friend who recently had a double mastectomy gave Katie the name of Dr. Cheryl Ewing. a surgeon who she highly recommended. Dr. Wang also knows or knows of Dr. Ewing and agrees I would be in excellent hands in her care. The referrals are made.
So now I wait for the schedulers to call.
There is a sense of encouragement. Steve and Katie see it as good news. For me, it’s hard to see any news as good news as long as I still have cancer. I’m grateful it is in one area, for sure. For me it will be good news when it is gone.
Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. —Voltaire