[Title quote by Ram Dass]
There was always the possibility of it not working. I mean, it worked before, and the doctors were so very confident, optimistic that the radiation therapy (all the way up to 70 gray) was going to really knock it out. The surgery had got “most” of the tumor, but there was still some of it down in the spinal canal and around those very delicate nerve roots. And it did seem to be working… for a time. At my first check-in after therapy ended, about 3 months down the road, it was shrinking. That’s the goal, and it felt like a reason for celebration. Too soon for celebration, I guess.
It’s growing again, and that explains the pain I’ve been having. It’s causing inflammation in that area.
They didn’t exactly throw up their hands when they told me this, but they didn’t seem quite so optimistic as before.
As of Monday, the oncologists (I have two: Radiation Onc, and Medical Onc, though I suspect the radiation onc will be stepping aside at this point) didn’t have a lot of definite answers, apart from when I asked them to define some of the words they were using to discuss my “potential” options. “Potential” because they are planning to hand over the reins to MD Anderson, in Houston, a major mega-cancer center that handles more rare and hard-to-beat cases.
My dear husband is taking this very hard. He had his own cancer tour of duty, 20+ years ago, where the tumor kept coming back, just as he was healing and getting his mobility back. 4 times, it came back after the initial finding. It’s hard to say, when he reminds me of this, if he is fearing the same will happen to me, or if he’s trying to be encouraging, to say: Look, I’m still here, and am leading a (somewhat) normal life! I do know he stares at me when we’re alone together and there is sadness in his eyes. And I feel compelled to comfort him, but somehow this seems like the reverse of what’s supposed to be happening. The same thing happened when I told my co-workers, who are all gentle kind people. Even my MedOnc seemed to be emotional, right before he left the room when our meeting was over. He took my hand and held it, bowed over it even.
So, though tears have been shed, none of them were mine. I don’t quite know if or when they will be. Each time I feel the welling up, I stop it. The time is never right for such things. Or so I tell myself. I have kept myself busy / distracted since Monday. Last night, I came home from work, bolted my dinner and then ran back out the door to get my hair cut. It had gotten quite long, and was hard to style anymore. Much too heavy. 6 inches came off and it’s still past my shoulders, but much more manageable. I told myself it’s because I want to try vintage (1940s – 50s) hair styles. A little quiet voice at the back of my mind is suggesting that the last time I had surgery, having excessively long hair was a pain in the ass, and cutting it will make future surgical procedures easier. But I’m literally thinking myself out of wearing a c-collar again. I can try, anyway.
“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.” – Ram Dass