Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Inaugural Post, In Which Our Hero Receives a CT Scan, Contemplates the Near Future, and Turns to The Boss for Comfort

Yesterday was my CT scan, the first concrete thing to happen to me since receiving the results of my pathology report. No big deal. "Iodine-based contrast" now goes on the list of things I have taken through an IV, a list that was pretty short two weeks ago and is rapidly expanding.

The results of the CT scan are the last piece of the puzzle necessary for me to meet with an oncologist (I already have an appointment scheduled for Monday) and settle on a course of action.

Let me back up for a second. The pathology report on my cancerous left testicle revealed several things, some of them good and some of them not-great.

(I like to say "not-great" signs rather than "bad" signs, because it's important to keep in mind that even in its more dire forms, testicular cancer is extremely curable. These "not-great" signs don't mean I'm screwed, not by a long shot; they just mean I may not be one of the lucky bastards that need no further treatment after the testicle is removed.)

To wit:

The tumor was confined to my testicle; it had not begun to spread up the spermatic cord. GOOD SIGN.

There was lymphovascular invasion; i.e. the tumor had access to my bloodstream and, thus, a way of accessing the rest of my body. NOT-GREAT SIGN.

The tumor was pretty small. GOOD SIGN.

Part of the tumor was embryonal carcinoma, a cancer that tends to spread pretty aggressively. NOT-GREAT SIGN.

... but only 40% of the tumor was embryonal carcinoma. Not too bad. GOOD SIGN.

(Not technically part of my pathology report, but relevant:) The tumor markers in my blood were not elevated before the removal of the testicle. GOOD SIGN.

So: I'll be meeting with an oncologist on Monday. I know that it's going to come down to three options:

1) If the results of the CT scan are good, I could go on surveillance. This means that for a year, I get a cancer screening every month to see if anything is recurring. Screenings can become less frequent as the years go by. However, the oncologist may decide that, given the specific types and proportions of cancer cells located in my testicle, more aggressive treatment is needed.

2) RPLND surgery. This is a common but pretty intense procedure (it puts you in the hospital for a few days) where your "retroperitoneal" lymph nodes are removed. This allows the doctor to more accurately gauge the progress of the cancer and is, in itself, frequently sufficient to cure it.

3) If the cancer is deemed (or suspected of being) sufficiently advanced, chemotherapy.

For now, it's just more waiting.

Last Sunday in Dallas, I saw Bruce Springsteen, a show I had had tickets for well in advance of any of this nonsense. Energetic! As ever, I was struck by his ability to push (so, so far) toward the precipice of schlock and then charge back and wallop you with moments that make you lose your breath. Ultimately, that's what I love about the guy: he understands people's need to have epically oversized emotion in their lives and sets about satisfying it as honorably as he can.

Ain't no sin to be glad you're alive!

Oh yes. Jon Bon Jovi showed up for some damn reason:

(Well, he was playing a gig in Dallas the next day ... still, Bon Jovi? Jersey camaraderie must supersede all other considerations.)


Dano said...

Wow, in Houston we got Alejandro Escoveda and Joe Ely, who I guess add up to one Bon Jovi.

Mary said...

Bon Jovi is a good Democrat, Curtis! Lay off 'im, man! BTW, I like this blog and will continue to tune in.

V said...

Bon Jovi probably just stopped by to tell everyone to "HAVE A NICE DAY" in his somewhat angry, vigorous, and confusing way.

This is Vanessa, btw.

RMatney said...

Sending you my best thoughts and wishes and admiration.