Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Cancer Recap - Post Surgery Update

My pathology report and I made our way to the doctor's office yesterday for my post-surgical appointment. Shel would have come too, but well ... he was in the van with the babies. THE BABIES!!! (if case you wonder, I am still in shock ... but back to cancer)

So, my tumor was clear cell carcinoma, that we already knew. The "Furhman Grade" was also higher than I expected and as such it has caused me some stress. This means it was a more aggressive form of cancer than we (ok I) had anticipated.

However, the tumor was also tiny, and well positioned. The actual tumor had a diameter of 1 cm and was resting on the edge of my kidney. Instead of losing a large percentage of my kidney as was expected, I lost only about 8%. The function of my kidney (or at least the cleanliness of my blood) has not been affected. All pathology of all other areas (lymph nodes, renal capsule, vessels, ureter, hilum and adrenal gland, pelvis, and fat tissue surrounding kidney) came back clear.

The tumor is considered fully encapsulated. As the doctor explained to me yesterday, it doesn't matter what kind of horses you have in the corral as long as they can't get out to wreck the fields (you can tell I live in ranch country?). In English that means my cancer was there, but was small enough to still be held in by the capsule around it. The doctor said I got the jackpot of cancers. Oh goody?!?

The final word came through as far as follow up as well. I will not have to see an oncologist again, instead I will have CT scans twice a year for the next little while, and yearly ultra sounds and blood work the rest of my life. Officially, according to the doctors, I am now a NED (No Evidence of Disease). All good news.

Emotionally? Its a different ball game. I want to know what I did to CAUSE this. I want to know what I can do to PREVENT this. I have never smoked. Ever, not once. And still I get a smoker's cancer? I am relatively healthy and in good shape. I get an cancer correlated with obesity? I logically know there is NO reason, or at least no reason I will ever KNOW as to why I got this cancer; that even if I had smoked that doesn't mean THATS the reason this cancer started.

The doctor called this "Health Confidence". He said it will return in a couple years of living well. I wonder if that's so? I wonder if I want to even forget how fragile life truly is? If I live to 86, I now understand that its NOT given. I want to appreciate old age because I hope I never forget how close I came to not seeing it.


Alex said...

Congrats on the positive update!! And on the big step you've taken to add(for however long it is) to your family :)

Judy said...

How I understand your concerns. The difference is that my cancer really is a crap shoot -- they truly don't know (as far as I know) -- why some women get Inflammatory Breast Cancer and it's so very rare.

And I SO SO get this:

I want to appreciate old age because I hope I never forget how close I came to not seeing it.I now think old age is something people should cherish, not belittle or begrudge. I'm a bit better, but I'm still likely to say something when one of my 40-something friends starts grousing about getting old. "Getting old is a luxury," I'll say. I can't help myself, for I don't know if I'll be afforded that luxury (of course, none of us really knows), but I hope and pray that I am.

Otherwise, I am so very glad that things went well. This kind of thing really does rock you, and absolutely changes you. Forever. Be gentle with yourself. Remember that I'm here if you need to talk about it.

Love and prayers,

Vanessa said...

Praise the Lord it ws found in time and removed!! Praying for it to NEVER return!!! Congrats on the two new members too!

Di said...

3 Cheers for "Jackpot Cancer" - Count your blessings! Live each day as best you can and love those around you. That is all any of us can do, SHOULD do - We (you and I) are both fortuate enough have hit Jackpots! God is good. Go soak up the baby snuggles and enjoy those boys!!!!!!!!

OAM3 said...

Judy - sending you healing thoughts, though we've never met. I know how scary IBC can be and though I survived BC of a different type, I can completely relate to the idea that old age is a privilege.

Jen - wow, just wow. So glad it was completely encapsulated. Hard to accept that we'll likely never know the "why"...

I also don't want to "forget", and want to ensure the cancer experience impacts my life for the better eventually. Maybe the future will bring something that explains the "why" Jen - if not in medical terms.


Holly said...

Jenn, I've started this post over and over again. What to say? If I say I'm happy for you, doesn't that imply "if you had to go through hell, I'm glad that it was only on the edges?"

Let me say this, I'm glad it was encapseled and that the loss was much smaller than first thought. I wish you had the answers you are looking for.

Do you have to do chemo though? Or are you through with everything?

Angie said...

Hello - I found your blog through another blog and spent a couple of hours last Friday reading old posts. I have a 2 year old daughter adopted from Guatemala. I actually live in Saint Louis so I was really interested in your reunion with your son's first family. You are a great writer and all I can say is wow to you experience and everything going on now. I am now hooked on your blog and love your family.

Congrats on the positive update. I cannot believe all your family has been through recently. And now two new babies!!!! How amazing! I am sending prayers your way.

Anonymous said...

Hope you are doing well ........ I miss reading your blogs