The only thing worse than the certainty of cancer is a pathology report that falls short of confirming that fact. So, I went into Hughston Hospital on Thursday, October 14 to have a spinal biopsy of my L-2 vertebral body, hoping for the best news but with both eyes open to the possibility that my renal cell carcinoma had returned.
That biopsy fell short of proving conclusive. I was as uncomfortable as you might expect someone to be who had been punctured in the spine by a large needle. In this case, no news was really bad news. I had scheduled an appointment with a radiation oncologist at Emory Midtown Hospital in Atlanta that I had to cancel in light of this lack of a conclusive pathology report.
So, again on October 21, Jill and I rolled out of our driveway in Seale at about 5 a.m. headed to round two of the biopsy olympics at Hughston Hospital. This time, my good friend and bicycle riding buddy, Dr. Mike Gorum, got enough tissue and bone to get a definitive diagnosis. Sadly, I do have a renal cell carcinoma metastasis in my L-2 spinal vertebra. It is relatively small and should respond well to stereotactic radiosurgery.
I have been successful in getting another appointment with Dr. Liza Stapleford at Emory this Friday, October 29 at 9 a.m., where I will receive information and consultation about radiosurgery for the treatment of my spinal met. During the testing that I had prior to the first biopsy, we were able to confirm that other than this single bone metastasis, I don’t have any other apparent issues with my brain, lungs or other bony structures, the typical places where renal cell cancer would likely attack. The fact that this is my only met makes this bad news slightly more palatable.
I have done enough research now to be very confident in the radiation option as my best bet to re-take the summit of NED mountain. Extensive email conversations with Dr. John Cabelka at the John B. Amos Cancer Center have prepared me for my Friday visit and the issues we’ll soon face. I am fully ready to take this next step and confident that I’ll have a good outcome.
My only fear right now is the fear of the unknown. I’m a little fearful of going somewhere for treatment where I’m not known. Ever single local encounter I’ve had with any health care professional has been uplifting. My transparency since my diagnosis and because of my involvement with the John B. Amos Cancer Center marketing campaign has afforded me the luxury of being known by nearly 100% of the people who have treated me, drawn my blood, handled a nuclear test or even simply handed me a bag full of barium bottles that I was required to drink. If they didn’t know my name, they definitely knew my face. It has been a blessing to me throughout my treatment.
Now, it is time for this bird to be nudged out of the nest. I confess to you here that I’m as uncomfortable with having to fly as a late spring robin who has just opened his eyes. But I’ll get it done. Knowing that this cancer is spoiling to taking another shot at me has me ready to fight. Again.
I’m now officially a round-two angry, impatient, crotchety, take-no-prisoners cancer patient. I’ll be stalking the halls of Emory Midtown Hospital soon and looking for a someone to aim some curative radiation at my spinal invader. Please keep the prayers coming. Also, your posts to this blog have given me and my family such comfort. Please don’t hold back!
I remember reading a facebook post a few weeks ago from John Pezold that he was sick of reading lame, sissy happy birthday greetings from folks. He wanted people to step it up. As you know, since my diagnosis, my life has been an open book. I know that my writings here have helped people to understand what goes on in the mind of someone who is engaged in the fight of their life. I’m prepared to be candid, and maybe even cause some discomfort in the minds of my readers. Hell, I figure I ought to try to channel some of this pain and discomfort somewhere. What I’m saying is that I’m up to reading whatever you want to throw at me.
I’ve said all I need to say here. It is back. It is in my back and I’m making plans to nuke it. Keep tuned in to this blog. I’ll post often.