A week that starts with a really shitty radiation oncologist appointment - hope you weren’t too attached to your hair or your current vagina - followed by a CT scan, and concluding with my regular Dr. B & Dr. J, oncology appointment could, I suppose, have had a happy ending. But it didn’t.
It wasn’t a tragic ending, of the sudden unexpected bad news variety. But somehow I’d been led to believe... Did someone tell me? Did I make it up? I’m sure along the way the words "complete remission" were spoken... Somehow I'd been led to believe that the chemo would shrink the tumour to nothing. Could shrink it to nothing.
Well it’s NOT nothing. It did shrink. A lot, even. But there’s still a little tube of something left there. And they don’t know what it is. Likelihood: it’s scar tissue. Makes perfect sense, I guess, to the initiated. If they shrink something the size of a Barbie Dream House sofa, how could it become absolutely nothing? Essentially they took out all the malignant stuffing, and what’s left is a fabric tube. Maybe a bean bag sofa is a better analogy. All (hopefully) of the lymphoma beans are gone, only the vinyl casing remains.
That may be the most likely scenario, but it really doesn’t matter. Because a) they neither have a way of testing nor recommend a biopsy, probably because stuff can get missed, microscopic lymphoma lint, so making the determination that all’s clear on the vaginal front, based on a minute bite of what’s left over, is not good science, and b) you should do radiation just to be sure, just to kill anything alive in there, just to leave you with more battle scars.
We discussed the yawning chasm between Dr B’s radiation-is-easy-compared-to-chemo view, and Dr D’s doom and gloom purgatory scenario. Conclusion: the truth is different for everyone and lies, not somewhere in the middle, but anywhere at all on the cakewalk-to-hell continuum.
I will get a second opinion about the radiation. Maybe a third opinion. No one thinks that’s a bad idea. But I suspect they don’t thinks it’s all that fruitful. Who’s going to tell me not to radiate? Who can promise me my vagina will fare well and my hair will grow back? Maybe it’s best to prepare for the worst. But I’m not that kind of girl.
I didn’t cry as I did with Dr Doom. OK that’s a lie. I did cry. But it was a different kind of crying. More sad resignation about my bald strip, atrophied future, than angry frustration.
“I have one other piece of bad news,” Dr J said, near the end of our appointment. I panicked. If they could bottle the adrenalin rush of panic and adapt it for modes of transportation, a lot more things could go from 0 – 60 in 1 second. Panic is magic.
“I’m leaving. Today is my last day.”
I love Dr J. He has been my emotional oncological rock. He made it all palatable. His leaving is a huge blow. But that was the best fucking piece of bad news ever.
“But I’m leaving too, right?” I said. “Hopefully for many years.”