Thursday, December 22, 2011


No Evidence of Disease: the best news that a cancer patient can receive. This sadly does not mean'cancer-free' as some interpret it as in the doctor removed the entire tumor, I am now cancer free. There can always be a few cells lurking around ready to sprout into new tumors. No doctor can really ever say You are cancer-free.

I had been following the progress of a young couple who has a baby just a few weeks younger than Daniel. Last winter within weeks, both received news that one of them had stage 3 rectal cancer and the other had stage 4 breast cancer. As treatments for both would be grueling, they would not be able to take care of each other much less the baby. The woman's cancer had spread to her liver and brain. How unfair is that? I turned on the TV the other day and there they were. The woman's brain and liver mets had disappeared through treatment, totally unexpected, and she was pronounced NED, a X-mas miracle. She is well aware that she isn't 'cured' but at least she will have some time of being symptom free and she does have hope that the NED status could last.

On the same day, I read the obit of a daughter and sister of two women who attended my cancer survivor cooking class She too had been declared NED at one point. She had been in a clinical trial that testing circulating cancer cells in the blood. The thinking was that tumors are always shedding cells that will find their ways into the blood. They had just developed a way to detect these. If no cells could be found, then there was a good chance there was no cancer anywhere. Lots of rejoicing when she was told a year ago that this was the case. But she died last week.

Later on this same day, I went to dinner with friends, one of whom is a survivor of two Stage 3 cancers that are totally unrelated. One is a carcinoma and the other is a sarcoma. They found the carcinoma while investigating the possible sarcoma. How crappy is that? This news came at the same time that we were losing our jobs. Another cancer factoid is that staging various cancers are not equivalent. A stage 4 diagnosis in one cancer can mean almost certain death and in another, beatable with about a 60% chance. My friend's cancers are not equal despite both being designated stage 3. The carcinoma is much more serious yet it has been almost 5 years since he was told the improbable news so he is probably 'safe' from that. The sarcoma is very slow growing. Its treatment was unbelievably brutal but on the whole much more survivable.

Today is the shortest day of the year. As I crave sun, it is not a day I look forward to. The upside is that now all the days will become longer. Also it is unseasonably warm. I will be out there once I figure that I get a temporary reprieve in my babysitting duties. I have had Ms. Maya with me a good portion of the week as Naomi was working all night and needed to sleep during the day. Last night was her last night.
On one of the days, Josh was with me. He is quite fond of Maya. He is alarmed that Maya is not making much progress with verbal communication (though she is signing more). He decided that he was going to help 'fix' her. Ironies of ironies. My number one concern at one time  was his lack of communication when he was under 5. Now so-called experts have been assigned to her case. I took her to the speech pathologist yesterday. They can just increase her signing.

She is a happy, cute little person. I do have fun with her though it does get tiring chasing her everywhere.

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