Saturday, June 30, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0583 - CEA Normal

I met with my medical oncologist on Monday of this week. The official reason for the follow-up visit was to review my CEA test results from blood work done on 29-May-2007. Carcinoembryonic antigen tests are often used as a marker by oncologists to determine whether there is recurrent cancer. My results were in the normal range, although afterwards, when I checked them against other test results, they seemed higher than they have been for over a year.

We then talked about how things were going. I talked about the continuing neuropathy in my feet, about how I noticed a slight change now in the "buzz" I experience 24 hours a day in my feet, and how my hopes were that this slight change indicated a healing process. My oncologist confirmed that it takes a very long time for this healing to occur. We talked about diet and how difficult I find it is to see a pattern in my diet related to bowel movement frequency.

We also talked about fecal incontinence and urgency. Evidently I am doing everything that can be done without further surgery, including continuing with my daily use of Imodium. The only other surgical approach would be a diverting colostomy, but unless things get very bad, I certainly wouldn't even consider that.

Finally, after the requisite digital rectal examination, he told me that we would do another CT scan in about three months. If that scan is like the last one, then my follow-up routine will mean a move from appointments with the oncology staff at the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre to my family physician.

All of this is good news.

But maybe I'm just in a doom and gloom mood. While I recognize that there is absolutely no medical reason for me to be suspicious, the shadow of doubt is always there. The discomfort and lack of physical freedom of movement is always there too reminding me of what I have been through. And then there are the evenings and nights, like last night, when I seem to spend more time in the washroom then I do sleeping.

But I am still here and I'm finding footing again in my career, making contributions and plans and thinking about the future milestones for our family. These simple things remind me that although life is tough, so am I.


See the recently introduced News From Surgical Oncology newsletter from the GRRCC.


Anonymous said...

Hey Don, you ARE a tough s.o.b. A marathoner has to have a different mindset than a sprinter. You are in a life-long marathon against cancer and fortunately have the required mindset to deal with it. Run long and hard my friend. You have my full respect.


Way to the West
Way to the Right

Don Spencer said...

Some people say I'm just an s.o.b.

Do marathoners walk?

Thanks for writing, Way West. I'm looking forward to a ride on your new Harley. Two old geezers with leather!