Today I visited my oncologist and, I’m pleased to report, that all is fine for now. As I’ve told anyone who will listen: any appointment after which I’m allowed to go home is a resounding success in my book.
Of the three tumor markers we carefully watch, one went down (yay!), one stayed the same (yay!), and one went slightly up (pffft!) although it is still within an acceptable range. So that means nothing changes for now. Because I’m feeling fine and looking so good, the good doctor is turning a slightly blind eye to the increased tumor marker level for now. She’s asked me to see her again in late February, after having another CT and more blood taken. Additionally, I get to stay in the vaccine study in which I’m participating (more on that in a minute) as well as take part in another (more in a minute). That’s right, it’s two, Two, TWO studies for the price of one!
Here’s the deal: cancer tumors apparently release free-floating DNA into the bloodstream and scientists are trying to figure out what it all means and how to leverage it. My oncologist asked me if I’d be willing to offer up some blood to help them out. Let’s see…a needle in my arm, one time only, help the cause? Sure!
So immediately after my appointment, we zipped up to the oncology outpatient clinic for the fourth in the series of five vaccine injections I’m getting. After those three quick but incredibly painful shots, in walks another nurse who says she’s there to collect my blood for the new study. Wham, bam, there’s another needle in my arm and two small vials of blood are taken.
“What about a consent form?” I ask the second nurse.
“You’ll sign it after we’re done.”
“What if I don’t consent?” I ask with a smile.
“I”ll give you your blood back.”
It’s amazing the efficiency one can witness.
So, fine, sign here, here and here. Initial here, here and here. And it’s off to the back where I need to get my port flushed. I have to tell you, I love going to see those nurses. They treat me like a rock star. Hugs, kisses, and so on and so forth.
“Sit here, take off your shirt,” and a needle right in the chest.
That’s right. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s five needles in a span of no more than 15 minutes.
But that’s OK. I got to go home.