Friends and Family,
We flew to San Diego last Tuesday to see my oncologist. Thirty seconds after we sat down, he popped his head through the door and said, “Your scans look great. Nothing to worry about! Back in a minute.”
You would think that would be the end of it, wouldn’t you?
When he came back into the room, the conversation took a different turn. While my lungs are stable, Dr. Patel said that a “hypodensity” showed up on my pancreas. “A hypodensity,” he said, “is a mushy spot.”
One of the many bonuses in being a cancer survivor is that I’m getting a medical education at no extra charge. Hypodensity = mushy. I must find a way to make use of this.
Just to set the record straight, I already have a few hypodensity spots, and most of them are pretty hard to miss. I’ve never once had a doctor ask me about any of them, and Genevieve has been kind enough not to point them out. So what makes this one different?
“It’s nothing to worry about,” he said, with a concerned look on his face.
This had me squirming just a bit, so I asked more questions. “What might it be?”
He talked a lot, without ever answering the question, all while telling me again not to worry about it. Again, I’m wriggling. I decided that the answer I was getting was a hypodensity. (Sorry.)
So, I got blunt. “Could it be cancer?” Pancreatic cancer is already a hot button for me. This is how my mother died. The possibility that it could hit me opens old wounds, and not a small amount of fear. I have one cancer under control. If this is a different kind…
Dr. Patel was emphatic in telling me that there are contradictory opinions about the link between hypodensities and cancer amongst doctors, and no conclusive proof, so don’t think about it that way.
All this reaction from the doctor, while he’s telling me there’s nothing that should cause a reaction. I may be a little clueless at times, but being tone deaf does not even make the top ten in my list of medical problems. Something doesn’t fit.
How do I put these conflicting pieces together? As a last resort, I got practical, and asked what we do next.
The next step is to get a MRI. He was suggesting doing this in another three months, but after reviewing my old scan reports, I found that Mister Hypodensity has been hanging around since at least April. I convinced him to request it now. If nothing else, getting an answer will keep the stress from killing me over the next three months.
The MRI will be done tomorrow, and I should get the results on Friday.
This is one of those times when I would like to say that I am having reasonable concerns, but no fear. Perhaps that would be true if I was more brave, but I am not. In the past week, I have gone from denial, to full-fledged fear, to letting all the feelings in and then letting them pass through me, to staying in the present. Sometimes this week at work it has been hard to make a phone call if there is the least bit of challenge involved in it, so I have put a few things off. Some days I’m leaving work early, too worn out to be productive. All of this is OK with me. Having ups and downs just means I’m in touch with what is real. It will all pass, and we will deal with whatever comes. After all, Dr. Patel says there’s nothing to worry about.
Just one request: Don’t go getting mushy on me.