It's been 10 years since I was diagnosed with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma... cancer. I started this blog to share the many emotions, fears, experiences and, hopefully, triumphs that I will face throughout this journey. I have two goals for this blog, 1. To gain some degree of personal therapeutic benefit and, 2. To help others who may one day face a similar struggle by detailing the process of diagnosis, treatment and recovery so that they may know what to expect.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Reality Is Never Far

August 4, 2008 - The two year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis (June 28) came and went with little fanfare. OK, no fanfare. I never mentioned it to anyone. I know there are people who like to celebrate each and every milestone achieved during this process and I respect that. I think I've just grown weary of the whole thing. I have dwelt on cancer for so long, its impact on my life has been so overwhelming, that naturally I begun to try to put it behind me.

In the annoying words of Lee Corso... 'not so fast my friend!'

I had my routine 6 month PET scan in June (to the extent that any of them are 'routine'). Since my initial diagnosis, this was the fifth PET scan that I've received and for the first time, I wasn't completely anxious in the days leading up to it. Sure, it was on my mind but all of the previous scans were preceded with an impending sense of dread. Not so this time which obviously means that this time the results were not favorable. OK, maybe that is too strong a statement. I'll call the results questionable.

And just like that, it all comes rushing back.

I should have known. In fact, I think deep down I may have known when I didn't get the usual immediate follow up call from Dr. Tonnessen with the 'all clear' . I told myself that I was going to be seeing him in a few days for a follow up appt. to go over the results so he was just saving it for then. But the reality was that I had become complacent; dismissive. I began to let the idea that all of this was behind me creep in. That life was truly almost back to normal and I could finally exhale.

Then, BAM! The spectre of cancer shows up to smack me in the face and let me know that its not going anywhere. Not yet at least. Maybe not ever. And with it all of the fear, anxiety and depression from exactly two years ago - familiar as it ever was. And despite my best efforts, just as I was then I find myself becoming sullen and withdrawn. I don't want to go through life this way but I don't want to make the mistake of letting my guard down again.

In the interest of full disclosure, Tonnessen is of the belief that this is nothing and told me that this is not uncommon with PET scans. I saw Dr. Califano a few weeks later and after a thorough physical exam, he said the same thing. But it is all tempered with the discouraging refrain of "we'll keep a close eye on it." IT.

So now we wait... again. For now on though, the gloves stay on.


Anonymous traci said...

Mike-just spent a week at a pediatric oncology camp...its amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. My thoughts are with you....

5:41 PM


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