Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday, March 31st, 2008 - another update

Hiya Bloggy,

It's getting a little late but I thought I would try to do an update tonight rather than wait until tomorrow. Call it superstition, but something about posting a blog update on April Fool's Day just doesn't seem right.

Sometimes I wish this was all one big joke or prank, but it's not... and it's not too often you will hear me getting all quiet and serious. But, I have had a kind of rough weekend. I'm trying to think what the timing has been but I guess it started with the other week when Jo and I went to my appt. with Dr. Gill. I was really surprised that they had found two areas on the PET scan that were of concern, but I don't think it really sunk in for me at that point. Then I had the appt. with Dr. Yee, the lung surgeon, which is the last entry in the blog dated Wed March 26th. Again, the things he had to say must not have really sunk in.

It's interesting to say the least. I mean, I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent female and things that I don't understand, I will ask questions. But to have the information from two different appts. not really sink in has kind of thrown me. It took a few days for me to process the information and then the anxiety started to creep in. By Friday, I was having anxiety/panic attacks and let me tell you, they are very, very scary.

Once I processed the information I realized that this is serious stuff we are talking about. It's not just a 'ok, we have found a few more things, but nothing that a little minor surgery won't fix' and I guess that was how I was looking at it. In fact, the spot on the lung is more than likely a secondary cancer. It's possible it is a primary cancer, but either way, to get rid of it will require lung surgery and that is not considered a minor surgery, even though the spot itself is considered a small spot (just under 1/2 inch).

But what really freaked me out is the concern over the adrenal gland mass. The concern there is that on the PET scan the two spots that lit up were the adrenal mass and the spot on the lung. That means the radioactive tracer that they inject prior to the scan goes through the body and lights up if it finds active cells (which usually indicate cancer)... so this adrenal area now becomes a concern. The problem with this is... IF it is malignant, then it is considered having spread from either the colon cancer or the lung cancer. Either way, this is NOT a good thing and if that is the case, then they more than likely would not do any surgery, for the adrenal gland or the lung spot, because it would be considered spreading and doing surgery would be no better than attempting more chemo. The chemo then would be done to try and slow the progress, but would not be a cure. So you can understand why I started getting very anxious and panicky. I'm not ready for us to be talking comfort care and/or palliative care.

Well, to make a long story still relatively long... I have spoken to my GP (who has prescribed Ativan to help take the edge off the anxiety/panic when it shows up) and his advice is to try not to be scared until we know if there's something to be afraid of. There are factors in my favor that the growth is benign... the fact that I've had it for so long (pre 2001), that it is extremely rare for colon cancer to spread to the adrenal glands and the first of the blood tests showed that my cortisol levels were within normal range so the growth is not producing excess cortisol (we just had more tests done for other hormone and steroid production) and are awaiting those results.

Today, Dr. Gill (oncologist) called me because I had sent her an email on Sunday to let her know that I was having anxiety/panic episodes... so she wanted to know how I was doing today. When I told her it comes and goes and that I am scared, she, too, reiterated not to let my nerves get to me right now. She then explained what the tests are we are doing and why we are doing them. The blood/urinalysis tests are to determine if it is safe to do a fine needle biopsy of the adrenal mass. If the growth was producing excess hormones, etc., then that would have to be gotten under control before doing the biopsy. If these next tests prove to be normal, then we will go ahead with the needle biopsy. It will be THAT biopsy that will tell us if the mass/growth is benign or malignant.

If it is benign, then FANTASTIC!!! It would mean all we have to do is get rid of the lung cancer by surgically removing the spot. Imagine that... being happy that all we have is lung cancer??? Sheesh!!

But that's where I'm at at the moment. Oh... and for all of you who sent emails after the last update... I just want everyone to know I love and appreciate the emails. Likewise, I do appreciate the phone calls, but please don't take it personally if I am not answering the phone. There are days when I just am too tired to talk about it and I don't want to trigger off an anxiety/panic attack. Email, I do usually get around to answering... unless you all write at once... then it does take me a few days to get back to everyone :)

But thank you, thank you, thank you everyone for keeping me in your thoughts... and now, I need everyone to think positive thoughts that the adrenal growth is benign!! We went through pooling our positive thoughts together last year when I was in the hospital and I came through with flying colours, so I'm asking if everyone can work that magic again :)

Oooh... and everyone from work... pass the word... THANK YOU for the cards!! I checked my snail mailbox this morning for the first time in a week and voila... there were your cards!!

Your fighting buddy,