Monday, December 15, 2003

Yes, we got the all clear on the PET/CT scans I had earlier--and I'm quite excited. I didn't expect bad results, but then again I didn't expect cancer the first or the second time either, so I'm done with predicting the results. No mojo voodoo for me--I just tried to stay distracted instead of reading results into every little thing. The doctor said standard visit in three months (better than the recidivist two month schedule I was on) and that we'd do another PET/CT in six months.

Part of me wants to just get on with life--have another child, learn a second language, get all our photos in albums. Kevin thinks we should wait a bit longer, but I'm sure he only really cares about the first item. (As if I've been waiting for good results to tackle the last two.) A six month wait wouldn't be unreasonable, and two successive all-clear PET/CT scans would certainly be good for the mental health. (After all, you never really get good news, you just get not bad news. No one will ever tell me I'm going to be cancer-free--they said that after my first round of treatment and look how prescient that was.)

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I had another PET/CT scan, which means trip in HAL-like tube. This time I remembered to wear non-metal clothing, so my chain mail, gold lame, and Victoria's Secret sequinned velour track suit were out. Once I got in there, it went fine. No indication on the results, but at least the tech didn't exclaim, "Oh my god" or say, "I've never seen that before".

Checking in was an exercise in patience, something I forgot to bring with me. I got there a few minutes early, and then everyone else arrived--there were at least twenty people in line. The PET/CT machine is in a trailer out in the back parking lot, nestled in among the construction trailers and heavy equipment. There's no waiting area inside, so they have you stay in the registration area until the technician calls for you. So at about fifteen minutes after my scheduled start time, I did something I typically don't do. I got ticked off. I wasn't going to wait in that line--there seemed to be no end to the number of people coming in and getting in it--so I got out my cell phone and called the appointment desk. The woman who answered was kind enough not to figure out what was going on and I was summoned to the trailer almost immediately after (although it took me two tries to find it) . I can only plead low blood sugar since I had been fasting for 16 hours and my seat was in full view of the snack machine.

Lance Armstrong versus Scott Hamilton
Why is it that I care and identify more with Lance Armstrong than Scott Hamilton? They're both athletes, both had testicular cancer, both survived and went on to continue their careers. But, I didn't devour Scott's book (did he even write one?) as quickly as I did Lance's, and I certainly didn't reserve his second book right after I heard about it either. Score two for Lance. Scott's got a web site ( that I've visited, briefly, only in the interest of making sure the link worked. Lance probably has a web site, too, but I think our relationship is a little deeper than what a browser can support. But then again, Scott's site is sponsored by the company that makes Procrit, and those are the people fighting the study that proves that it does not help anyone on chemo because it seems everyone on chemo is taking it. Five point deduction, Scott. It's just odd how you can identify with one individual you don't even know.

When I'm reserving books online from our library (their time-delay makes it work like NetFlix), I always check out the categories they stuff books into. There's a category in the library for "Cancer Patients Biography" by geographic location. I love these kinds of arbitrary classifications! I mean, if the marketing folks ever got ahold of this, we'd be looking at "Cancer Journeys, Absolutely Awe Inspring" and "Cancer Journeys, Totally Tear-Jerking", etc.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The family is gone. I will risk saying, 'at last', because that is how my stomach feels. The army may travel on their stomach, but my family travels with special carts to carry our stomachs when they get too heavy. Our get-togethers are all about the food. And drink, of course. Kevin has learned to deal with the fact that we talk about our next meal or two while we're consuming the current one. (Oh, and we always manage a scatalogical reference, too.) With all this eating, how am I to keep my radiation-induced svelte figure?

I still feel thankfully (how timely) removed from being a cancer patient. However, it's hard for me to not mention it when medical issues come up, and now I feel like I'm working it. It's not as though I'm any kind of expert, except in my own 'cancer journey'. (Damn those marketing people! Now I can't help but say it, and eventually I'll probably stop being ironic. Curse you!) But I'm not so far from it that I want everyone to forget, either. Must be more of that PTSD, I'm sure.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I participated in a marketing focus group on cancer care at Stanford. $100 to sit in a room behind one-way glass with a group of cancer 'suvivors' in a room talking about what we look for in a hospital.

Due to my new kinder-n-gentler outlook on life I managed to not sneer at the term 'cancer journey' right off the bat. I didn't go on any 'journey', I had cancer. Don't New Age it up for me--I didn't go anywhere, I certainly didn't book it, and there isn't an end to a 'cancer journey' until you a.) die of it, or b.) get better and get over it.

I did, however, simply state that I resented the term 'cancer journey'. They moderator didn't ask why. The rest of the group got on board and talked about what would make a pleasant 'cancer journey'. I mentioned a billing system that wouldn't make Dante consider yet another ring of hell, and one participant had to stop the conversation because it was giving her palpitations. I wonder what the marketing people behind the glass thought about that.

As we wound up, I resisted stating that I didn't give a rat's ass about my 'cancer journey' as long as it didn't end up six feet underground. My final comment (and yes, I said this out loud) was that I'd walk over broken glass to get a better outcome. Comfy chairs in the chemo center? Nice. An accurate and reasonable billing system? Pipe dream. Caring and empathetic nurses? A bonus. Ultimately we all only want one thing--to get better. If you're not going to do all that, then give me the money that my insurance would pay for treatment and let me live it up at the Four Seasons.

But that won't sell people on Stanford. It's a mighty fine line to walk between bragging about your positive outcome percentages and promising cures and that's a line no marketing person can manage to stay on the right side of. So they had us do all these exercises and talk about different hospitals.

They were asking us about the message that a cancer center should emphasize. If it were up to me, I'd put it all in the name:

Jiffy Chemo
(Stanford) V-Mart (formerly ABVD Mart)
Radiation Depot
Cancer Cure City

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