The call came in at 11:45am, woke me from a late morning nap, and was only two minutes in duration.
In the six minutes that followed, I could only lie in bed, face buried in my pillow, and bawl. It felt like an eternity; I just didn’t know what to do. I was lost, even though this surreal feeling wasn’t new.
The conversation replayed in my mind:
Dr. Roush began by acknowledging himself as the caller, drawing a deep breath and saying, “so here’s the scoop,” and I knew I was in trouble. I emotionally braced myself as he continued, “The good news is that there are no new tumors.”
‘That’s good,’ I thought before quickly following it with an ‘Uh oh…’ I’ve heard enough news from my doctor that I had a pretty good idea where he was headed next.
He explained that most of the tumors had remained the same size. I felt my heart drop with disappointment. Both oncologists truly thought we would see most of the tumors disappear or at least shrink significantly.
I let silence be the messenger of my emotions. He backpedaled a bit: “well, the scan doesn’t tell us if this is still active cancer or ‘dead’ cancer.” It seemed like a wimpy excuse, and I plan to drill him on the topic at my Monday appointment. But at that moment, I let it pass. I could tell he wasn’t done.
The worst news always comes last: three of my existing tumors had grown. (He said two, but after further examination the count was three.)
I tried to breathe, but all of the air was suddenly absent from my house. All I could think was, ‘I went through whole brain radiation (WBR) for nothing?!’ (My radiation oncologist would later agree.)
Dr. Roush continued: He and my radiation oncologist already conferred, and they recommend we immediately zap the growing spots with CyberKnife, before they get any larger. As is the case in my lungs, these tumors are overachievers.
Sheepishly and a bit scared for an answer, I asked Dr. Roush whether or not he recommended chemotherapy. He alleviated my fears, “I would not recommend chemotherapy at this point.” Phew!
On Friday I met with my radiation oncologist to begin the time-consuming, multi-step CyberKnife setup process. Next comes another MRI, a CT scan, the molding of a new mask, and a lot of time spent lying on many hard tables. I hope to complete all of that and the first of two treatments in the first week of October, although nothing is scheduled yet.
I also want to share some great news I received during yesterday’s appointment: the first two CyberKnife sessions were 100% successful. At first glance, it seems that the tumors treated immediately after my seizure have disappeared.
After the two upcoming Cyberknife sessions, I will have one treatment-free month. If the following MRI shows no new growth, I will get to extend the reprieve for two more months. Just imagine: I might feel good enough to go snow tubing in early December!
At 11:51am on Tuesday – after six incredibly long, lonely, and sad minutes – I worked up the courage to send Seth a text message: “😢”.
I’m very scared and can’t do this alone. Fortunately, I don’t have to.