I’m working with arguably the best gyn/onc surgeon in the country at one of the best medical facilities in the world. Two days ago, this doctor looked me in the eye and said, “Well, do you have it in you to fight just one more time?” About a thousand thoughts and emotions raced through and then drained from me. I felt empty. My entire world swirled around me and left me sitting there… flat.
The short answer was, yes, I had it in me to fight one more time. And that’s what I said to her. She explained that the cancer is in one lymph node in my pelvic region. This, of course, is where she removed a chain of lymph nodes and radiated four months ago. This, of course, is the site where the cancer was not supposed to be growing anymore. And suddenly, there it was.
The rest of the answer was that I was scared. Do I bother looking for a job for next school year? While I’m fairly certain that I will live to see 33, will I live to see 34? I haven’t had kids yet. I don’t like my car. Is it fair to want to move out of my dad’s house? Does it really matter if I do or don’t eat dairy products at this point? I just had 4 surgeons completely mutilate my body, and for what?
The good news in all of this is two-fold. Number 1: The cancer is still in my pelvis and has not spread. And number 2 (this part is amazing to me): A few weeks ago I was scheduled to get a CT scan. I had a seemingly irrational outburst days before I was supposed to have it done and decided that I MUST have a PET scan. I would not have a CT. The aforementioned world renowned surgeon recommended a CT, and I challenged her. Not in an aggressive way. Just in a “I’m sure that I will be having a PET scan” way. After some research, I found that a CT only shows masses (not specifically cancer like a PET will), and a PET will detect cancer that is much smaller than a CT can show. I knew that the cancer that had been in my body was aggressive, and I simply wasn’t willing to take the chance that a CT would miss something if it was there. So I had the PET. When the doctor told me the results, she said that the lymph node would not have shown up as abnormal on a CT scan. It would have grown aggressively for the next three months when my next routinely scheduled PET would have shown it. And god knows how wildly it would have progressed by then. I trusted my gut and took charge of my own healthcare. This is my life, and while I have a wonderful team of specialists (all with resumes that go on for miles), not a single one of them lives inside this body and hears the messages I hear.