I saw my oncologist today to get the test results from the CT scan and ultrasound. The results were surprising. Although there is a lymph node that is enlarged on the left side, there are actually several on the right side! I can't feel them like I can the one on the left but apparently they are there. Is it the cancer coming back to take the breast it was previously denied? Or is it another type of cancer? Or maybe nothing? Luckily my tumor markers are not elevated. For those of you unfamiliar with cancer terminology, tumor markers are substances that are produced by cancer or by other cells of the body in response to cancer or certain benign (noncancerous) conditions. Most tumor markers are made by normal cells as well as by cancer cells; however, they are produced at much higher levels in cancerous conditions. So what does this mean? They don't know!!! It could be a simple case of a viral infection causing inflammation of the nodes or it can be a recurrence. I am officially now in "monitoring status" meaning we keep an eye on them and hope they do not grow! I have to see my oncologist again in a month for more poking and prodding.
Hannah has taken a positive position on this as it has not been termed a recurrence. I suppose that is the best way to treat it but I hate the uncertainty. I don't know how to deal with uncertainty. How do I "fight" this? I knew how to fight the last lump - remove it and pump my body full of drugs meant to kill it. But what do I do about this situation? I suppose the answer is to go on living and doing all the things I have been doing, except maybe not so many tequila shots? I hate living with the general feeling of uncertainty about what tomorrow will bring. Having cancer makes me more aware of uncertainties because I never expected to get cancer in the first damn place. I have found myself thinking, "If I can get cancer, then what the hell else can happen?" I try not to let this feeling of uncertainty take over my daily life but often it does. I really don't like going to that dark place but sometimes I can't help it.
Before I got cancer, I was under the illusion that I had things under control. Oh sure, there were job issues and bills and all that, but all in all, I was coping pretty well. And then that sense of control is shattered, and I don't think it ever really comes back. It is replaced by uncertainty in almost everything. How long will I live? Did the chemo work? What will my next scans show? Will it spread? Will it come back? It seems that almost nothing is certain, except that my life has been torn to shreds and tossed in the air like confetti. I think most cancer patients don't ever think it's really gone. It's just hiding, waiting to jump out and scare us when we least expect it. Will I be able to resume my old life? To rebuild my battered body? I don't know. But I do know this disease has changed me dramatically in so many ways. I am a different person. Hopefully a better person.