Things are getting murkier and murkier.
Murk one: a year ago, my oncologist urged me to have surgery to remove my left kidney as the “primary” source of Stage IV kidney cancer. The surgeon, a week later, said “forget it, no point in doing the surgery, you’re fucked, and your oncologist will throw the book at you because all she knows is surgery, radiation and chemo and you can’t do any of that.” Not exactly a quote, but close enough.
Murk two: Six months later, second CT scan, more murk: no change in any of the tumors in my kidneys, lymph glands, and lungs. However, the actual detailed report says something like, “Hey guys, maybe the primary isn’t really cancer, maybe it’s a oncocytoma, (just a dense something, not cancerous) but maybe not. Maybe she has endobronchial pneumonia.” Oh, and one kidney stone in the right kidney.
Murk three: six months still later, a few weeks ago, third CT scan, and now it’s total murk. All of a sudden the radiologist says I have Stage III left renal carcinoma. (No longer Stage IV?! For real! Joy dance!) Lungs are stable, still wondering about bronchopneumonia. No kidney stone, right kidney. (Where the hell did it go? I didn’t pass it, I would remember something like that, believe me!) No change in kidney cancers, right or left. No sign of malignant cancer in abdomen, which means the cancer in my lymph nodes disappeared. Gone. (Where the hell did they go?) More dancing and cheering and celebration in my world.
Murk four: My oncologist never told me I was now a Stage III, but did contact another radiologist who said, “Well, I see the malignant lymph nodes. Yup.” I have not seen a record of this opinion yet, in writing. However, in my oncologist’s eyes, I am back to, or am still at, Stage IV.
So I have no confirmation in writing of what Stage I am in, or on, except the Stage of Life. There is a difference of opinion between radiologists as to whether or not there is lymph node involvement. The surgeon we spoke to a year ago, who said I was doomed, said that there was cancer in the right kidney, for sure, “I saw it there when we tried to zap the kidney stone.” However, he didn’t write that into a report of any kind, so we don’t really know for sure that there is cancer in the right kidney. It’s probably there, but… On Monday I go see a new surgeon/urologist and will ask to see the CT with my own eyes, and Eric’s. I want to see those lymph nodes myself.
If the lymph nodes are truly gone, that means that the left kidney, the primary, is not metastasizing. I think. All I really know is that there is a formula somewhere in the Western medical canon that says that if the lymph nodes are involved, and there is renal cancer, or cancer in the kidney, then the patient (that’s me) is Stage IV. It’s an automatic thing, a protocol. And they believe that the nodules in my lungs are cancer, from the kidney. I personally think the nodules in my lungs are basalt dust, but what do I know.
A song of Clarity in all of this: I will not have the operation now. Maybe later on, down the road. I am looking for a new oncologist who will help me hold open the possibility that I will live through this disease, a tiny door at the end of the bell curve, who will work with my entire integrative medical team including my Tibetan doctor.
My oncologist sees me dying from this, I can see it in her eyes. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, I’m actually okay which ever way this goes. But I want that door open a crack until we can all see that it has closed on its own. Don’t shut it before we get there!
Meanwhile, I am practicing joy. Sun, daffodils, daphne, bees, walking. Life is good, even when it’s murky. Joy to you all. May the shimmer be with you.