Saturday, May 24, 2008

holding pattern

After a week of tests and trips to various hospitals and doctors, the news appears to be no news. Jiffy came with me on Wednesday to see my oncologist and discuss next steps. We talked about surgery and she agreed that it was a likely option, especially if we could get Professor Pafko, Havel’s three-time lung surgeon, to perform the operation. The PET scan would be the deciding factor.

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?”
“Eleven.”
“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.

I wish Paquito a very speedy recovery from his knee operation last Thursday. Todo va a salir bien. Un abrazo.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

...ok, only 4 instead of 7 tumors, and no further growth: that's news!
(What is not news is that the Karlak Mdr. got something so important so very wrong).


On another note--perhaps this should go on the Mikefest page?--you are really going to enjoy Dinosaur tonight, where you're unlikely to run into any small children, pregnant or nursing mothers. I saw them some months ago, and was as blown away by them as I was back in the day.
(Having Murph and Lou back makes all the difference). Have a great time!

Jon

Anonymous said...

Hey sweetie,
still keeping a close eye on the blog.... sending all the good stuff we can as always .....hope the concert was cool.
wow radioactive...do you get a sticker? like a biohazard one- to warn the lactaters(sp?).... hugs from us all and lots of love too. Bek an my boysxxxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

hello dahling,
well glad to hear the news as it is, seems like after the PET there is a more refined plan; chemo for an idefinite period? You still keeping up with the old friends you made in the hospital when this all started? things here are ok. love love love you. ann

chihuahua lady said...

knocking those tumours down like bowling pins mikey!
me and johnny are coming back to visit again, we cant get enough of ya.
see you mid june!!

Pamela said...

Well, I'd say that having 50% less cancer than you originally thought is pretty effing good news. Hopefully the positive trend will continue. If they can operate on the tumors you do still have, then we're in business. I'm really proud of you and think your amazing attitude is the #1 thing keeping you on the path to recovey. Keep it up! You have lots of people in your corner! You can beat this.

xox