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.


Natalie said...

Oh Liz, I'll be checking your blog for more info, but you definitely have all the good thoughts and PVs I can manage, and I am hoping for a 'benign' result, too!

sherry said...


and lots of PVs!!!

Julia said...

You have my every wish for a quick recovery and a benign pathology report. You're very brave and deserve an easy go with this!
Julia from OMOM

Jacqueline said...

big huge ((((((((((((hugs))))))))) to you. You are in my prayers. I pray you are surrounded by ministering angels... and I pray all is benign and that you are healed.