Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Results Days

This is not so much about today's results (that will likely be tomorrow's post) but about results days generally. There is definitely a heightened tension. Part of it is just the sheer frustration of not knowing how much the disease has progressed. Another part is starting to think about options, what do we do next if it continues to progress, and how to tell loved ones. Then you also start thinking about what else you could have done. Are you seeing the right oncologist (yes), is it time to go to a specialist center for a consultation, are we eating the right things and taking the right supplements.

Part of what we try to do each result day is to make sure we have our questions outlined - today we have about 15 and we gave them to our oncology research nurse yesterday so he could review them and give a copy to our oncologist so he could hopefully review them prior to our in-office visit. We also try to take time to calm each other and do whatever each needs to get centered. In Meagan's case it's usually a walk and Facebook time connecting with friends or answering phone calls and emails. I go work out.

We do talk about the what-ifs as we sip our matcha tee and eat our oatmeal. We continue to focus on "we will prevail" even though it could be a bumpy ride. We know from past experience we've had results that weren't positive - and we knew in advance because she had some subcutaneous tumors pop up in between scans. What we didn't know was what was happening internally. Fortunately so far the internal growth has been minimal.

The hardest part is thinking about the difference between systemic treatment - the stuff that wipes out the cancer - and the tumor management. Tumor management means surgical removal of tumors or radiology treatment. We may have to do tumor management to buy time while we continue to find the holy grail of the right systemic treatment.

So each result day you are assaulted by all these conflicting emotions and challenging intellectual options (considering the results and what they mean). And at the end of the day, it is usually pretty emotional, one way or another - relief, or scared. Certainly telling the kids is hard. At that point all you can do is lean on each other and friends and family. But it is hard to communicate to all who are concerned and want to know, because the more times you tell it, the more you can be re-traumatized by the news of the day. Then you end up feeling guilty for not communicating with everyone. But usually mental and emotional exhaustion kicks in and you simply hunker down.

So let's hope today is good news.

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