Turns out I only have four tumors, as opposed to the previously-reported seven – my CZK 80K a cycle oncologist at Karlák must have been seeing double back in February.
So it was off to my PET at Homolka, where they quizzed me for as long as they could about my identity – not too long, as they only had my name and birthday to go on. They informed me that I couldn’t be around small children, pregnant or nursing mothers for a day, as I would be radioactive. “What about my cat?” I asked.
“How old is she?”
“Ah, no problem then.”
They didn’t tell me any of this last time, or at least I don’t remember. The doctor/technician was a bit of a wise-ass, and very funny in a very deadpan, straight(wo)man sort of way. I imagined the comedy team we could make as I faded in and out of sleep during the fifty-minute exam.
I saw Dr.? Wang on Thursday, who, when I told him the lung tumor had grown, barked at me for not having drunk all of my foul-tasting tea since my last visit. I had seven pins this time and bought more tea.
Jiffy and I went back to Motol yesterday to see my oncologist and get the official comparison between the February and May CT and PET scans. Doctors and hospitals generally don’t trust each other’s diagnoses in the Czech Republic - I’ve come across this a few times before. According to the radiologist at Motol, the lung tumor is ‘stable’ (no change in size) and the three lymphatic tumors may have actually decreased slightly in size. The PET revealed no further metastasis.
So my oncologist recommends more chemo – to begin on Wednesday: same cocktail, unspecified number of cycles, followed by or concurrent with radiation treatments. She sent me to Dermatology to have two spots/moles (one of which is the possible site of the primary tumor), excised and biopsied.
“The patient, who lives with his mother, is 39, and still lives with his mother.” has been replaced with “Melanoma of the lip.” which has dogged me for months now. “You don’t have melanoma of the lip!” they inevitably say, “I know,” I always reply. The dermatologist checked me over thoroughly, even checking a suspicious lesion on Jiffy’s foot, all the while babbling to us in Latin along with encouraging head gestures.
She scheduled the two excisions for June 12th and, out of the blue, asked me if I spoke French. “Mais, oui,” I replied. Then began twenty minutes of us blathering on in French, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, English, German and even a little Hungarian – most of which she speaks very well AND has a medical degree to boot. We hit it off.
I’m not looking forward to next week’s chemo or the 7AM Tuesday blood tests. I just want to get this crap out of my body as soon as possible and, scary as it is, would prefer to have the operations. Apparently, the lung tumor is too close to an important vein and the surgery would be very risky. But I guess no news is good news and I’m already well-past the median survival time for Stage IV metastatic melanoma. So, “Steady as she goes, Mr. Sulu.” The party continues: going to see Dinosaur Jr. at Akropolis tonight.