Saturday, July 26, 2008

Another dip in life's roller coaster

The short story... I'm having surgery on August 6 to remove a nodule in my abdomen.

The story behind the story... last week I had my regular semi-annual CT scans. I am always apprehensive at this time, worrying about what the scans might find, even though the chance of them finding something becomes more remote as time passes. This time however, was a deja vu of my scans in 2006, when a nodule was found in my lung, biopsied and found to be non-malignant, and which subsequently disappeared. They were also aware of an enlarged lymph node in the abdomen, a node which sparked a bit of disagreement between my specialists. My oncologist said it was too risky to biopsy since it's in pretty deep, and that it wasn't necessary since they could biopsy the lung. My kidney surgeon disagreed, and sent my information to the radiologist to schedule the biopsy. They wouldn't do it - giving the same reasons as the oncologist. The nodule has been stable since, but now has grown in the past 6 months. I discussed it with the oncologist, who called it "concerning" but acknowledged that it could well be benign. He wanted to discuss with my kidney surgeon whether they should biopsy it or just remove it. Unfortunately, the surgeon is out of the country for the next several weeks, and though he is allegedly accessible, the oncologist ended up talking to the surgeon who is covering for him. Therefore, surgery on the 6th.

So now I wait, anticipating and dreading anesthesia and another hospital stay, then being in pain/discomfort for a while... I'm really hoping that the nodule is benign, but trying to temper my optimism so that I don't feel crushed if I get bad news. I asked the oncologist, if it is malignant, will I need systemic therapy? He said that I would not, as long as follow up scans remain clear. That is good news, but if it is malignant then the chance of it coming back is much greater. I’m trying not to think about that just yet, though I have been doing some reading online. (Yes, I know, bad Liz, reading all the gory details when they may not apply.) Traditional chemotherapy does not work on metastatic kidney cancer. There are several drug therapies that have been recently approved, and they are helping people, but they are either keeping their tumors stable or decreasing their size, but not “curing” the cancer. I know this is similar to people with other kind of cancers, but now it really hits home.

In pettier annoyances, I have been happy to be a three-year survivor. I’m counting the months until I can donate blood again; right now I will be cleared to do that in May, 2010. My dad donated over 12 gallons in his lifetime. I know I won’t ever get to that point, but I would like to at least “pay back” the six pints that were transfused into me during and after my nephrectomy. If I have metastasis, the ticker starts over again and maybe never gets to the goal.

So if you can send out some “benign tumor” prayers and positive vibes, I would be truly thankful.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Recent Carlyisms

Recent pearls of two-year old verbal wisdom...

One morning as we came downstairs, Rebecca looked out the front window and exclaimed, "The irises have bloomed!" This event had been breathlessly anticipated for a couple of weeks. Carly was so excited, and so she said, "Mommy! The Irish Socks are blooming!"

In Carly's world, you have one foot, and two feets. We were at the kitchen table one day and we could hear Jim coming down the stairs and hallway toward us. Carly raised her eyebrows and exclaimed, "Oh! I can hear Daddy's feets!"

Jim likes to use the word "Czechoslovakia" as a silly tag word, when the girls ask a question about someone or something's whereabouts. "Where is my toy?" "Czechoslovakia" "Where are we going, Daddy?" "Czechoslovakia." This is part of Jim's homage to a favorite movie, Stripes. ("C'mon, it's Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick 'em up, we zip right out again. We're not going to Moscow. It's Czechoslovakia. It's like going into Wisconsin.") Well, it's hard for a 2 1/2 year old to say that big word, so when she says it, it comes out as CHECK-ia-FOCK-ia. Every so often that third syllable comes out a little different...

And, she has both a cousin and a teacher who share a name... ASS-a-lin. You might be more familiar with a different pronunciation for Allison. When she says it, we repeat it, "what, Carly? Is her name Assalin?" "NO, Mommy, it's ASSalin!"

These moments make up for the tantrums that while starting to subside, have put Miss Caroline into the category of a "terrible two".

Artistic impressions

I submit for your consideration... a piece created by Rebecca entitled "Carly When She Is Mad". Her parents and teachers have hailed this portrait as an accurate portrayal of the subject in a certain mood.