Last week I had another one of those MRIs that snuck up on me with my doctor in Minneapolis. I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t spent much time really even thinking about anything else. So when I got the call the night before to pre-register for the appointments it took me slightly by surprise.
It was just the standard MRI/doctor checkup that I’ve been having every 2 or 3 months since radiation. And I was assuming it would go just like the rest of them — ending with good news. This one didn’t quite go that way.
A month or so before the appointment I had spoken with the team in Minneapolis about the October/January appointments in Houston, letting them know that in October the team at M.D. Anderson thought there might be some hot spots on the scan but that January didn’t show anything. And I requested that those scans be sent from Houston to Minneapolis for comparison during this appointment.
I went in for my scan and then headed to the doctor’s office later in the afternoon. Generally, Dr. Truscheim opens the door and immediately says something like “everything’s great” or “it looks fine”. But this time he greeted me while heading to the computer to pull up the MRI and immediately started talking about the scan of the tumor — that is, the part of the original tumor that couldn’t be removed and was instead radiated. He pulled up that day’s scan, along with scans from last June, and started pointing to certain areas where he and the radiologist are “without much room for doubt” seeing an increase in the size of the remaining tumor. And as we went through different layers of the MRI, there were spots were I could see growth as well.
While walking me through these he was very quick to note how “very, very slow” the growth was and that for now we should just continue monitoring. I was trying to listen, but couldn’t help but think of the “what’s next?”
We discussed my P53 genetic disorder and how that limits the safety and effectiveness of certain treatments, and how jumping into chemotherapy or radiation run way too much risk at this point. After I asked him about surgery to remove it, he reminded me of the reason that area had to be left behind in the first place – “you wouldn’t come back the same you”. Without question, he is recommending we should continue to monitor with upcoming MRIs, and several times pressed the “very slow” message. It’s so damn easy to say, but wasn’t very easy to hear.
I called my dad and gave him the news, and of course broke down because it was all too familiar. But dad is always great at comforting at just the right moment. He reminded me that we still have no idea how long the original tumor was there in the first place… that it may have been since I was a little kid. And as far as the remaining tumor grows, “we’ll just have to pray that it grows so slowly that you outlive it.”
I think Dad is spot on.
I’m heading back to Houston in May with Mom for a full set of tests, obviously including another MRI. The scans from last week have been passed to the team there so we’ll be comparing lots and lots (and lots) of MRIs and I’ll update you accordingly. For now, hope you’re all doing well.
P.S. Today is Jill & Ben’s one-year anniversary! Hence the photo from last year. I’m heading out to spend a week with them on Wednesday. Can’t wait!