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Scan Hardly Believe It



Life goes on. My warranty has been extended for another 90 days as all three scans from Sept. 23rd indicated stable and/or no new metastases. News with which I am extremely fond of saying, I can live. Though the radiologist's report that I received lists both non-small cell lung cancer and papillary thyroid cancer as "the indication," my endocrinologist feels what I have is thyroid cancer and likely have always had thyroid cancer. I wish I could say that will be for the lawyers to argue, but peculiarities of law and the three-year statute of limitations in Maryland makes a final resolution unlikely. Therefore, I will continue to live with my amazing good fortune and possible misdiagnosis as part and parcel of how I roll.

And how I roll, as you regular readers know is chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy once again - in that order, and diagnostic scans every three weeks in the beginning and eventually and presently, every three months. As such, over these nearly 13 years of being a cancer patient, I figure I've probably had at least 50 CT scans and another 20-plus MRIs, plus an occasional PET scan. The point being that over the years, I've done an awful lot of waiting for scan results with my life/immediate future hanging in the balance. And 'balance' is exactly what one needs to endure these incredibly anxious situations. Though I'm fairly experienced at this juncture, the actual moment of truth when I receive the email containing my results is oft-putting to say the least and downright heart-stopping to say the most.

However, my personality is perfectly suited for these ongoing challenges. I never presume the worst. I never woe is me. I never bemoan systemic delays in communicating the results to me. As my close friend, John, would most definitely say: "It is what it is, and it will be what it will be." I never put the proverbial cart before the horse. I can take it. No problem. My wife, Dina, on the other hand, cannot. For her, the results cannot arrive soon enough. Granted, immediate feedback would be much preferred. But, that's never been the process. I can accept it. Dina, not so much.

That being said, I will admit that after all these years/scans/waiting for results, I have become less able to take it all in stride. It's as if a layer of patience and understanding of the process has been worn away with time. Even though I've mostly received good news (unexpectedly given my original "13 month to two year" prognosis - in Feb., 2009), I have had my share of disappointing news. But on the whole, I've been one of the luckier cancer patients. Still, each scan I wait for results is hardly an adventure in wonderland. I am constantly wondering and worrying when the other shoe will drop (the bad news). In fact, opening up the email that contains my scan results literally takes my breath away.

Not to be negative, which I'm not, but during the Team Lourie meeting in late Feb., 2009 when I first met my oncologist and were given all the medical reports/assessments of my recent X-Rays, CT scan, PET scan and surgical biopsy from the pulmonologist, thoracic surgeon, pathologist and internist, it was clear and convincing from all these doctors that I had lung cancer. And my prognosis? Grim, and it was no fairy tale. It was surreal to hear and nearly impossible to process. I have what? When I was told the survival statistics by my oncologist of stage IV non-small cell lung cancer patients (me): 2 percent survive beyond two years, my brother asked if there are exceptions. To which my oncologist replied to me: "Could you be the one? Sure." Little did I know that the doctor was being literal. One was the answer. Ever since I heard that, I felt my days were numbered. All these several years later, I'm not exactly counting days, but neither am I counting chickens. I live quarter to quarter and am grateful to do so.

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