If Your Fate was in an Envelope, Would You Open It?

Friends and Family,

I had it right there in my hands. Should I open the CT scan report now to find out if the cancer has grown, or wait until tomorrow, when I see my oncologist in San Diego?

That’s what I was asking myself on Monday. I had my CT scan at OHSU (Portland) in the morning, and then came back in the afternoon to pick up the digital images (too big to email) along with the report from the radiologist. This is S.O.P., now that I am having my CT scans in Portland the day before we go to San Diego for the clinical trial.

What would you do, if you had your fate written down in an envelope? Would you open it? Burn it?

This wasn’t a question that would go away. Genevieve and I slept with the report five feet from our bed. We left for the airport at 3:30 in the morning, and the report was in my backpack, calling me. Flying down, I could hear a little voice from the overhead bin. “You don’t have to wait.”

I grabbed my backpack off the plane, and it was in my hands again. I didn’t let go until we rented a car and dropped it off at the hospital for my doctor, three hours before my appointment.

Then we waited.

Dog with Biscuit.jpg

I’m entering the time window when AZD9291 stops working for some people. This time window stays open roughly as long as Tarceva, but it varies a lot from person to person. For example, I met people at the HOPE Summit in DC this May that had been on Tarceva for seven years.

Since there is no clear treatment path after this, I don’t know what will happen if/when this stops working. The longer I stay on it, the more time we have to find the next miracle treatment.

At long-long last, we met with my oncologist. He told us the spectacular news we were waiting to hear. The cancer hasn’t changed a bit. We have six more sweet weeks of life to be grateful for!

OK, be honest. Up until now you’ve been thinking, “Dann, are you NUTS? Why didn’t you open the envelope?!!!” Although there may be a little (little?) madness, there’s some method in it. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

Nine years ago, when I was first diagnosed, I had chemo and surgery, and became cancer free. However, I was a lot more on edge about the whole death-around-the-next-corner thing than I am now. A year later, I got a call from my primary care doctor. He said my new CT scan had shown a “hyper-dense nodule,” and wanted me to come in for an ultrasound to confirm if it was cancer. Genevieve and I both went into shock. I can still remember where we sat when we discussed it, and feel the pit in my stomach. Fortunately, my appointment with my oncologist was only a few hours later. He told me that the report had been misread by my primary care doc (who has never butted in to my cancer treatment before or since). There was no cancer, and as it turned out, there wouldn’t be, for another four years.

THAT is why I don’t want to see the reports before I talk to my oncologist. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Dr. Patel was complimenting me for my “will power” (won’t power?), but this was really about not setting myself up for unnecessary drama.

I have enough of that already, don’t you think?

Here’s hoping that all of your surprises are good ones.