Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Setback

Yesterday was a bad one. After my morning radiation treatment, I had a bad reaction to the injection, which saw me arrive home with severe nausea; I threw up before I could make it into the house. After suffering through this for over an hour, I finally passed out and got some rest before my MRI.

The MRI was ordered by one of the doctors in the radiation center, after hearing that my back pain had been getting more severe and more specific. I had to lie on the flat, hard platform of the MRI machine for almost an hour, which was excruciating. When we were finished, we went back to the radiation center for my afternoon treatment, with the new films from the scan. The doctor was able to see immediately that there are lesions on my tailbone, hip and two lower vertebra; the cancer has spread, and the new growths are causing the pain in my back.

This morning we spoke to Dr. B, who was very frank with us; it's bad news, and it makes my prognosis for recovery worse. They are changing my treatment immediately to irradiate the new areas for two weeks, which he thinks will quickly eliminate much of the pain; the treatment of my lung can stop for the time being, as the last scan showed a lot of progress on the original tumor. He also ordered another MRI for the rest of my spine, to see whether there is any more spread going on.

It's hard to say how or why this has happened; we knew from the start that this type of cancer is hard to contain, that it spreads very quickly. I've had arthritis-like symptoms since the outset, more than a month ago, and I've been on painkillers the whole time. So when the back pain began to get more severe last week, I just began taking more pills; I never thought that the cancer might spread while I was in chemotherapy. And short of getting an MRI every day, there's just no way of knowing - by the time anything shows up on a scan, it's really too late.

But I'm resolved to keep fighting, and hoping that the cancer can be fought into remission. Since I am no longer "limited stage", it's not realistic to think of being "cured", but there are always a few people who manage long remissions and survive for years. In the meantime, I am trying to live the best quality of life that I can, and make things easier for Gail. We're going forward with the wedding, and making plans for a train trip as a mini-honeymoon. And I'm working on drawing up some paper plans, blueprints, for a new model airplane - an old U.S. Air Mail biplane from the 1920s. There's always hope in making plans.