Friday, January 03, 2014

Some updates

So... I guess it's been ages since I updated you about my cancer, hasn't it? That's because nothing's changed, really. I see my oncologist every two or three months, we do CT and bone scans every nine months or so, and a mammogram once per year. All of them have come up clean.

Well, that's not precisely true: in fact, my bone scans reveal that the cancer lesions are continuing to heal. This is great! It's also weird. So much of the last six years have been about me coming to terms with having cancer and having a terminal illness. But if the lesions go away then my illness really is controlled and I don't have cancer in the same immediately terminal way that I thought I had it.

When other cancers disappear like my lesions are doing, they say that the cancer goes into remission. However, it's different for breast cancer because once the cells travel outside the breast and nearby lymph nodes, they can hole up and stay dormant for ages. Therefore, we who have stage four breast cancer are said to have No Evidence of Disease (NED) when the cancer can't be detected by scans.

Most of the people I know who get a NED status are thrilled about it - and I am, too - but it still feels strange. If I'm not the person who has cancer, who am I?

I should tell you that my tumour markers have stayed stable as well. They tend to oscillate up and down fairly regularly - in fact, I made a chart of their values over the years (up until August, 2013) that shows the oscillation very clearly:

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