Friday, November 27, 2009

Just When You Thought You Were Out...

Angela and I met with the Radiation Oncologist and the Surgeon on Monday. They told us that things do look promising (the PET scan came back clean, etc) but there is always the worry that the occasional cancer cell has survived that would trigger a recurrence in the future. The thing to do was to monitor me closely. This didn't leave me with a very confident feeling about the whole situation. I wanted to hear 'Go home, you're cancer free'.but I soon understood that this would not be said for several years. Even though the cancer was in remission the chances of a recurrence could not be ignored.
My Chemo Oncologist still asked to see us yesterday (Thursday) and presented us with a curve ball: He suggested to go back into two rounds of chemo (one a month) to hopefully kill any remaining cancer cells. In his opinion this would lower the chances of it coming back. He pointed out that I had been through a lot and that my body is weakened and that it probably would not be a walk in the park but that two months of loosing some 'quality of life' might be worth the extra insurance in the long term. I asked to think about it over the weekend but I thing I will go ahead with it. The first round will probably start already the end of next week.
I was planning to visit my family in Germany over Christmas starting the middle of December. If everything goes well and the side effects are not too bad I am still planning to go but I will make that decision shorty before that date. I really hope this trip will happen.
As for today I am getting ready for next week.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

PET Scan Results

I got a call from Cancer Care at about 3:00 PM this afternoon. The test reults were in and they felt they would like to spare me the torture of waiting for a week.
Here it is: The scan found nothing in my big bump. Nothing lit up (that's good, means no cancer), except a little at the roof of my mouth. They assume this to be inflammation rather than cancer and recommend close monitoring in the future.

This means that for the moment (a couple of months till the next scan) we are done. I will have a meeting with my doctor on Monday and will have a chance to ask any further questions.

I am extremely happy and relieved.

Thank you for all your prayers and positive thoughts!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

PET Scan

Today I went to get the scan done. It was interesting. They injected me with a radioactive sugar solution for an hour before they sent me into the tube (for about 40 minutes).

Now we have to wait for the results. I will meet with my physicians next Thursday (26th) to hear what came from it. Hopefully they will be able to tell from this scan if there is still live cancer or not. And so the waiting game continues.

Everybody say "scar-tissue"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New York And Beyond

New York had a lot of good moments. Angela and I saw some Broadway shows, went to the Opera, saw a TV show taping and did some shopping. Unfortunately it became evident that my depression and anxiety was still going strong. There were many hours when I felt unable to enjoy myself and Angela and I spent a lot of time in our hotel room talking and trying to address my fears and worries. It seamed that I did not take last Thursdays results well at all. Even though I understand that a lot of the treatment has been successful (most of the cancer seems to be gone), I am also upset about the possibility of 2 cm of cancer that could still be left in the growth in my tongue. I realized that there is a good chance for surgery which would be painful and could mean permanent swallowing, eating and talking disability. I somehow resent the thought that, after all my suffering this summer, there is still more to come. At this point in the game my mind is just unable to deal with that and I am sinking deeper into a depression every day.
After we got back I went off to spend the weekend with some friends at a cottage where my dear friend Dick is arranging a yearly get together where we make music and just have a good time. So far I haven't been able to socialize much. I find myself sitting in the background by myself a lot and indulge myself in my overwhelming sadness. I can't help but mourn the playful and worry free life I once used to know. I cry a lot these days.
On Tuesday I will have my PET scan. With this scan they can determine (by chemical reactions) if the growth in my mouth has living cancer cells in it or not. Unfortunately this technology has a lot of space for error so there might not be any conclusive results. For this reason I am getting myself ready for the potential of surgery.
Poor Angela has to carry all of my emotional weight and is still able to make me feel better at times. She always knows just what to say to comfort me. I am, however, worried that she won't be able to keep this up much longer.
So, life is tough these days. And I am bracing myself for it to get tougher...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Results

The meeting is over and here is what Angela and I were told:

• We were shown the MRI from before the treatment. There was cancer covering about half of my tongue and part of the roof and sides of my mouth. Then they showed us last week's MRI. All the of the cancer was gone EXCEPT the 2cm of my infamous bump.

• Unfortunately they don't know what is inside this bump. It could be scar tissue, dead cells or alive cancer cells.

• I will undergo a PET scan in about two weeks that will hopefully clarify (with some margin of error) if these cancer cells are alive or dead.

• If they still are alive we could consider surgery or more chemo.

Bottom line is that this feels like good news. The cancer has not grown or spread. The treatment worked (at least for the most part). However, we can't say with certainty if I am cancer free yet. We'll have to wait for now and maybe undergo more options.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Tomorrow is the meeting where will find out the results of the MRI scan. Obviously I am extremely nervous. I had a really bad night sleep already. Angela is working all day today and she arranged a fun day for me and my friends. David will be going for lunch and a movie with me and Clint and I will go to a spa and dinner after. I am looking forward to the distractions.
Angela and I also decided to go to New York on Friday. We figured that it would be better to mope around somewhere else in case we'll get bad news. If it's decent news we will have a good time taking in the big apple.
I will post the results of the meeting tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Before all the treatments started, David and I were talking about what was to come. I told him that I was afraid of what a person I would become after all the suffering and struggling that was ahead of me. His response was an inspiration for me during a lot of hard times. "They will bring you as close to death as they can and then they put you back together. Like the Phoenix out of the ashes you will come back stronger and improved. Like an Olaf version 2.0" I will never forget that moment. There were, however, many times when I wasn't able to imagine the 'Phoenix' that I might become one day. Especially during the emotional turbulent times of the last weeks.
David came to visit last week and he left me a gift behind. A small picture that he drew onto a canvas. I was very touched by it and I would like to share it with everyone.

Thank you David!