This is Friday the 13th of December, 2013. A few weeks ago, Asa had an ultrasound image taken of his liver. A few days later was the recurring Liver Clinic appointment, when we had our first inkling that things were Not Right At All. The following week we had to thread the labyrinth that is re-certification for financial aid with UNM Care (major life-stresser right there), a visit to the oncologist who ordered a different test to verify What They Saw on the ultrasound, then a few days ago, Monday, an endoscopy AND a sigmoidoscopy. Tuesday was the CT scan, which would clarify what had appeared on the ultrasound.
Today we got the results of all that fun and wonder.
Asa has an 8 cm cancerous tumor on his liver. Six months ago it was not there. We were braced and ready for this news, and I'm really surprised by my own feelings about this. Last night I was fighting back tears and crumbling a little around the edges. I really hate crying. I'm an ugly cryer, not one of those women who can cry and look gorgeous. All soft appeal and delicate flutter. Vaseline smeared on the lens and soft tragic music swelling in the background. And people want to give you puppies or jewelry or large quaffs of alcohol.
(I found this photo on a now-defunct webpage for an Hawaiian dermatologist)
No no. Not me. My face screws up and distorts and turns funny colors and people find me distinctly unappealing, like I'm an alien or contagious or both. They tend to 'run & shun.'
"FEAR ME! I HAVE THE GIANT WET FEELS!"
This morning, before we left for the Cancer Center, I felt this huge wave of anger and resentment about the situation. I was punching light switches with my fist. And now? I'm glad we have a definitive diagnosis. I'm glad we have a game plan. I'm not anxious or scared or sorrowful. I just feel like, Okay - we can do this. Asa feels pretty much the same. However, Concerned Doctor is Concerned.
Here we go into the abyss that is Round 1 of Chemotherapy. This should be
. . . something. Not sure what. This stuff is pretty toxic. There are quite a few fairly crappy (possible) side effects, most of which are problems he's already dealing with; fatigue, nausea, skin rashes, depression - and some sound like Pure Hell, like blistering inside the mouth and hand-and-foot syndrome. This drug is supposed to shrink the tumor to what they call a "manageable" size - small enough to be burned away. Managing the size of the thing will also relieve a lot of his current discomfort, like bloating and edema. He may be able to tolerate this drug and not have any side effects at all. He wants to give this a shot, and I stand beside, behind, and in front of him as the situation demands, so this is it. Beginning Chemo. And monthly visits to the oncologist. The dance card is filling up, what with the IBD Clinic and the Liver Clinic and the Heart Clinic and the visits to the GP.
The thing about liver cancer is, it never really goes away. It will eventually kill him. But if this drug does no harm, and actually helps him, then YAY. If not, the kids at the Cancer Center tell us there are heaps of other things we can try. This is just one page in the continuing saga.
I'm going to back up again just a little to our drive-time from home to the Cancer Center this morning. We were listening to talk radio, and someone mentioned tripping.
Me: I don't know why, but the phrase "trippin' balls" has been popping into my head lately.
Asa: Are we talking about Tuesday? (Asa was given a nifty dose of Versed for his procedure that day).
Me: I don't think so - but now that you mention it - WERE you trippin' balls?
Asa. No. I'm pretty sure I'd remember something like that.
(at this point we were in the Cancer Center parking lot and had to table the discussion)
(I couldn't find the original attribution for this one)
Tonight is the Mega Millions lottery. Asa said we might as well get a couple tickets - "I think we used up all our Bad Luck this morning."
Until those millions start rolling in, we'll just be taking things as they come, one side effect at a time.
That's a $2 Winner, my friend!