Year Two, Square One

My one year anniversary for having melanoma was 24 August and my wife and I were kind of excited because we keep moving forward, even when we suffered minor setbacks: the doctors and nurses have been fantastic, the interferon has been relatively easy on my system, my insurance has been BEYOND outstanding and we can start seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

And now we know why melanoma is called predictably unpredictable.

My quarterly PET scan showed a “troubling” spot on my T7 vertebrae. OK, fine, we need more tests. So a few weeks ago on a Friday, I went in for an MRI on my brain and spine. The technician said the longest scan they do takes about two and a half hours. And that’s what I got. Lovely. That was followed up with a CT-guided biopsy on Monday. No problems with the biopsy, but they must have banged around in my muscle tissue.

You know it’s bad news when the doctor’s office calls to ask if you can come in a day earlier than your scheduled appointment. We both “knew,” but it seems so much worse when the doctor actually says the words.

So now I have stage 4 melanoma, which has spread to my spine. Good news: it’s not in my spinal column. More good news: no one has said the two bad words (terminal or fatal). In fact, the doctor started with telling us about six different treatment options, not including more clinical trials. I’ve already talked to the radiological oncologist and I’m getting a referral to go up to Boston (not my first choice because I hate going into Boston). I’m not a fan of Boston traffic or Boston parking. I like going to Providence, but they don’t have as many resources. And since I’m not a big fan of dying any time soon, I’m going wherever I can get treatment which will buy me the most time.

So that’s the facts. How do I feel about it? Frankly, I don’t know yet. I should be upset. I should be terrified. I should be angry. I’m not any of these. I’m empty. Not sad, not angry, not scared, not happy, not anything. I kind of feel like I went through the seven stages of grief in seven seconds and now I’m at acceptance. Only I’m not accepting it. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but accepting things is completely off the table.

Stupid cancer.

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