I guess those who have really been living with this dratted condition for a long time (oh yes, there are people who are veterans) will take scan results in their stride; like a Tesco delivery, you have to remember to be in for it, you have to check there are no stupid substitutions, but then you get on and pack it all away. Your fridge is then all nice and replenished and you feel relieved, if not a bit self-satisfied, but inevitably it will need doing all over again all to soon.
But i’m not quite there yet. The first scan after finishing the radiotherapy (3 months on) is a bit of a milestone. We are told it could be clear, demonstrating no more than a bit of a mushy pond where the sugeon has trodden, which would be good, OR it could show something called ‘pseudo-progression‘. A vague 50/50 chance was bandied at me but research studies I have seen vary widely. I have seen figures between about 13-60%, and it all overlaps with radio-necrosis which is also distinct from tumour recurrence. Anyway, not being a statistic, that’s all irrelevant, good and clear is what we look forward to.
Then, just when you thing you have your mojo in perfect pitch, your best-brain-buddy (the lovely Tony who has been mirroring the same path as me since the very beginning) gets his scan and it looks ‘not good’. Shock horror. He is back to see Nigel who, no matter how much we love him, we really didn’t want to see again at this stage. I can’t comment on Tony’s condition, but I am confident that there is very good reason for opening him up again, and that Nigel will restore his ‘fridge’ to full again, (sometimes it is absolutely necessary to bleach and scour the empty fridge before you refill it). And any way, as far as I can make out, it’s nigh on impossible to say for certain until you actually get in there what is recurrence and what it just pseudo-progression or necrosis. So I am very optimistic on Tony’s behalf, and after my initial selfish “Aaarg, nobody told us that was on the cards, that will put the mockers on my holiday plans,” reaction, I even became a tinsty-winsty bit envious that he is getting an early scour and polish. (Sorry, Tony, I wouldn’t really swap places with you but there always IS an ‘up’ side to everything.)
Anyway, back to my news. My scan came back clear, no obvious signs of recurrence. Hooray!
And surprisingly it felt like a real boost. I hadn’t been too worried because I knew all about ‘pseudo-progression’ and was perfectly cool with that, so should not have counted this as much of a bonus. After all it’s only the first of an endless set of milestones. It doesn’t qualify as ‘remission’ (i am still on chemo) and it’s not as if it’s even a normal scan (there are lots of bits of debris and my brain still looks a battlefield) but somehow it seemed a cause to celebrate. In this game anything over half a glass-full is something to show off and drink a toast to. And this, for me, is one step along my chosen path of long term survival.
So, you you are cordially all invited to take communion from my ample glassful. And Tony, we are all with you all the way and look forward to the restocking of your fridge and wine rack, so if we need to come begging I know you will the one with ample supplies and a glass overflowing.