Update #4 — Not Such a Sweet Pea

First peas by Devon

First peas by Devon

After completing 3 rounds of maintenance chemo (Avastin & Alimta), I went for a CT scan last week. The results were mostly positive (or technically “negative,” as my MD friend corrected me) with one caveat. All previously noted nodules have remained stable, shrunk a bit or even disappeared. But, there is one new nodule in my left lung that’s about the size of a pea. Since everything else seems to be responding to the maintenance chemo, my oncologist recommends I stick with the current treatment plan, and just watch things more carefully; so my next CT will be in 2 months, rather than 3.

This little pea nodule has shaken me up some. Every scan up until now had delivered clearly good news. Despite everything I know about my diagnosis, the string of good news lulled me into feeling I could march forward with every treatment and eventually get back to normal, or at least the hallowed NED (no evidence of disease). So even though my mind can go to some dark places while waiting for a scan (scanxiety is a bitch), in reality I believed I would receive more of the same – clear good news, with no caveats.

I don’t like this pea, small as it is. It doesn’t make sense to me how this little bugger, presumably made up of the same cancer cells as the other nodules and treated with the same chemo, can somehow grow, while others shrink, mere millimeters away. It makes me nervous, and now I must adapt to life in this new kind of no-man’s land where I’m not sure if the chemo is working, not sure if I’m doing “ok” (stable) or not.

It seems cancer is hell-bent on teaching me over and over how to live with an unknown or precarious future. I’m not entirely sure the benefits of such a lesson. It’s a pretty difficult place to try to operate from, especially as a parent of younger children who need stability. I suppose it fits with the “live in the moment” message that makes a lot of sense when I’m in a meditation class, but which sounds like a pile of BS that I’d happily trade for clean scan results as I sit here typing at my desk.

I’m not giving up the positive perspective I had prior to this scan. Heck, I’m still using my anti-aging face cream every day – how’s that for optimism? But, the new nodule is a somber reminder: this is real. While I still entertain both realistic survival visions and pipe dream miracle fantasies, I’ve had a wake-up call that the path I’m on comes with twists, turns … and apparently, a pea.