Thursday, September 07, 2006

September 6, 2006 - Still in Remission

Late this afternoon, Claire and I drive over to Dr. Lerner’s office. After my port flush and blood draw, we take our seats in one of the small examining-rooms. Dr. Lerner comes in a few minutes later, opens my ever-thickening file, and begins poring over the reports from my PET and CT scans. He read the initial PET-scan results a few days ago, he tells us, but – due to the Labor Day holiday – he didn’t receive the reports from Friday’s CT scans until today.

Dr. Lerner confirms what I surmised earlier, from reading the PET-scan narrative report: I’m still in remission. The mass in my abdomen is still there, but it hasn’t changed in size since my previous scans (which were at the end of May). As for the nodule on the lung, it doesn’t appear to be of any concern – probably just some scarring from an earlier infection.

After viewing the abdominal mass on the second set of CT scans, the radiologist evidently went back and examined the PET-scan films in greater detail, then issued a supplementary report. That report does say there’s a possibility of some metabolic activity within what’s left of the mass, but it’s a very sketchy sort of conclusion. This is not uncommon with PET-scan results, Dr. Lerner tells us. He doesn’t think it’s at all significant, because the mass – which by now is likely only scar tissue – has not grown in size.

Is the radiologist genuinely concerned, after taking this second look at the test results? Or is he just being cagey – covering himself, legally, in the event that some future scan reveals a recurrence of cancer? For all the lab-coated practitioners of this modern alchemy would have us believe their conclusions are 100% objective, it turns out there’s still a certain amount of guesswork to it, after all. Is radiology, in some sense, an art as well as a science?

The bottom line, of course, is that this is very good news – although Dr. Lerner delivers it with the dispassionate objectivity of a true scientist. That’s OK with me. I don’t need a trumpet fanfare or a balloon drop. I sense Dr. Lerner to be, for all his soft-spoken precision and careful choice of words, a kind and caring man. He’s certainly done well by my case so far, and I’m grateful to him for that.

On my way out, the receptionist schedules me for another appointment, the week after Thanksgiving. I’m supposed to call the office a couple of weeks before then, to schedule another PET/CT fusion scan, and a series of regular CT scans. I’ll be back in the meantime, for my monthly port flush, but those will be quick, in-and-out visits – the oncological equivalent of getting an oil change.

As Claire and I leave the office, we walk arm-in-arm out to the car. Although this was the outcome we’d expected, it still feels good to have the weight lifted, once again. Three months from now, we’ll be going through this uncertainty all over again – as surely we will continue to do, for some considerable time to come. But that’s a worry for another day...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are so very happy to hear what you had suspected would be good news - that you are still in remission. Charlene/Harvey