My eyes slammed open around the same time as local radio personalities Bob and Tom. They went live on the radio at 6 AM; I, on the other hand, had nothing to do for hours. Despite it being un-customarily early, I knew there would be no returning to dreamland for me today.
I was nervous, full of apprehension and maybe even a little scared. I had a 10:30 rendezvous with Dr. R and his nurse Jennifer where I would learn the results of 4 months of expensive, inconvenient and annoying chemotherapy.
Jennifer had left a phone message the day before which partially allayed my concerns:
“Mr. Grinkmeyer, your CAT scans look absolutely wonderful; they showed no enlarged lymph nodes whatsoever.”
While that sounded like excellent news, I had jumped the gun on partial information before, assuming all was well when there was actually an “oh-by-the-way” tucked away in someone’s shirt pocket. I would not rest easily until I heard the magic words from Dr. Robertson himself.
They entered the room together, both smiling, which made Joan and I smile, too. Dr. Robertson sat across from me, grabbed my wrists (he always does that when he wants to drive home a point), leaned forward and delivered the verdict.
“Mr. Grinkmeyer, the CT scan shows no sign of cancer; it is in Complete Remission!”
Period. End of story. No “oh-by-the-way”s. Then he proceeded with his explanation of just what that term means and the caveats that accompany that very good news.
“Complete Remission means that a CT scan shows no evidence of the disease,” he said. “But as we’ve discussed before, there is no way to eradicate this type of cancer as of yet.”
Complete Remission does not preclude the possibility that there are cancer cells hold up in the caves, beaten, battered and bruised, licking there wounds and waiting to unleash an army of invaders at some later date.
How long will my remission last? Nobody knows; maybe a couple of months; could be a couple of years; with some luck, a couple of decades.
How will I know if/when the cancer has mobilized its forces and launched another attack on me?
Symptoms will appear, symptoms that for the most part I was fortunate enough not to have experienced prior to my chemotherapy. Typically though, if the cancer does return from a state of suspended animation it will do so with a dogged determination that it did not possess during its first attack-I intend to not let that happen.
Modern medicine has done its job, at least for now. Chemotherapy beat into submission the Lucifer-like cancer cells that threatened the well-being of my healthy cells. Now the fight-the one for my life-is on, and this time I’m the one in charge of the outcome.
Next: How I plan to defeat cancer and live a long, happy and productive life.