Today my husband turned forty. Lucky him - I hope I get to do that someday!
I think in our B.C. life, milestone birthdays were more sobering. Today I just think it's cool that he can be forty and well. It's a goal I hope to achieve.
Tomorrow is a different kind of milestone for me. I will be exactly 10 months post-diagnosis. I still hear whisperings from the old newspaper article that marveled about a man going nine months without tumor recurrence, because "most" glioblastoma patients have their fatal recurrence show up within the first nine months. It gives me the creeps to think that the odds are favorable for an "interesting" result in tomorrow's MRI. I just try to tell myself that REALLY what this means is more good news if things go well tomorrow. And if things don't...well, then - it's not unusual.
To make things extra scary (after all, it is October, and some folks will pay good money to get the willies), I was confirming my appointment time for tomorrow's MRI, and I learned that I have to come in earlier than planned, because this will be a special MRI with spectroscopy and perfusion. After pressing for more information, I learned that this is a way of enhancing my surveillance, and it was ordered by my doctor as a result of what she saw on my August scan. Now that threw me for a loop, because I remembered the August results being very good. However, because the doctor did note shrinkage of the cavity in my head, and some very small enhancement, she ordered the next scan to include these special techniques for distinguishing tumor recurrence from peri-tumoral edema (aka radiation effects that can occur even months or years after radiation treatment) or other weird things. This was described to me in a reassuring way - there was not a concern; this is often done about every six months or so with patients; and even if it were tumor, it was so small; etc. After all, if it were something urgent, they wouldn't have waited two months to do this test. But it's still bad timing, considering those whisperings in my head about that magic nine-month window.
Still - it already is what it is, and tomorrow will just be a matter of finding out and dealing with whatever it is (good or bad). I did learn that such techniques are very accurate in determining the level of tumor infiltration, even more so than the histological grade of the tumor. The little denial bunny inside me (who loved my sister-in-law's dream, in which my diagnosis was found to be wrong) likes to think of this as a way to start raising suspicions about my diagnosis. Of course, I don't want the little denial bunny to jinx things such that tomorrow's result will mean this weekend's emergency craniotomy.
This is part of the rollercoaster ride of life (especially life with cancer). It's the part that makes the stomach sick. It's the part that makes my eyes hurt and my head feel heavy. It's the part that forces me to remember what has carried me through the past ten months.
Hopefully it's also the part that generates a lot of prayer, and hopefully (like many other times) it will be the part where we get to marvel at the amazing power of prayer.
Today we mark a birthday, and we will continue with family celebrations of my husband's milestone throughout the weekend. I told him that I hope I don't ruin his birthday this time, like I ruined the holidays last year. His reply was that I didn't ruin anything last year -- the cancer did. My mom's reply: every day we are breathing is a day to celebrate, no matter what else is going on.
I'm just hoping that with enough faith and prayer, we just might be able to celebrate both my husband's milestone and my own milestone: a remarkable ten months without tumor recurrence.