Yet this morning there was an added strain of PET scan results. As I took deep breaths in the shower, I was very conscious of my thoughts and careful not to think anything that might jinx today or anger the cancer Gods. When you play in a game with changing rules- superstition can't help but be part of it. The thought settles just out of reach- dad. My aunt texted my days ago with signs. Mom reminds me daily- it's gonna be ok. Today is the anniversary of my dad's death. It's been 21 years but on this day it still feels fresh, ragged. The shower washed the tears away. I want to believe this day won't get any sadder. I think momentarily that it's a good omen, that I have chemo today. No news is good news. Perhaps the news is good.
I called on Friday and the nurse said they could see the scan but no report. I've learned that looking at PET scans is kinda like looking at a kaleidoscope that's mated with a magic eye picture. So I know better than to ask how it looks. I knew I would have to wait til Monday. Which means restless nights. As much as you tell yourself there is no rhyme or reason, you've done what you can do- you still hope for the best. And then you worry that by hoping for the best you might jinx it, so you prepare for the worst.
We get into the chemo bay early and the report is not in still. The nurses are calling around to try and find it. Finally a call to the facility where I had it done and they say they faxed the results. I guess my onc wanted the radiologist here to take a look- but after some discussion- apples oranges- basically we just needed the report from the Center that did it.
Phil runs to get coffee downstairs and meet a friend who was nice enough to make us dinner for this evening. I wonder if it is strange that we travel with a cooler in the trunk for this sort of occurrence. I am grateful for it. While he is gone, one of the nurses is looking at me PET- I wheel my IV pole on over to take a gander. I remind myself of all the times I have looked at scans with my untrained eyes and panicked. She asks where were the main spots of concern last time. I kinda snickered. There were several. It was my impression that my onc was most concerned about the adrenal spot and the hilar spot which means I should be most concerned about those spots but I remember Phil was especially concerned about the one in my femur. For many reasons- I mean sheer numbers of spots is not good- but multiple organ involvement is no bueno. I went from 2 organ systems being involved(lung and bones) to more than 4- brain, lung, lymph nodes, bone and adrenal. We looked over the scan and shrugged. We needed that report. SO she finally gets them to refax it.
Phil is back when it arrives, and I am grateful. "Congratulations," she says as she hands me the paper. Last time she said congratulations was over a year ago- and that was really good response. I glance at the first paragraph. "skip to the bottom" she urges. No. I say. No. "Jen Mallory only you would look at that report and say no" I give her a high five and she walks away laughing.
I want to read it- the full report but my eyes are filling up with tears. I can feel Phil trying to be patient and I hand him the report.
1. Complete resolution of left cerebellar, right hilar, right adrenal gland, and multiple skeletal metastases consistent with therapeutic response.
2. NO evidence of loco regional recurrence of breast carcinoma.
3. NO evidence of visceral or new osseous metastases.
Those were my No's. No's can be good. No's can be very good. Phil hands me back the report and I read it over and over again. Like a beloved childhood fairytale. The tears come and I let them. I text my mom first because I know this is the one thing I can do today to help her get through the sad. That hopefully some of the sad tears can be replaced by happy tears for awhile.
So we keep trucking. We keep doing this chemo, Kadcyla as long as it works. Phil wants a guess. I can't say. 8 months maybe 12 till the cancer adapts and grows around it, some ladies have been on it for years. We just hope. This is the gentle tug of war I play with cancer. For now I have the high ground, again. A strategic game of life. And today was a good day.