For the Record
And here's what I learned: the medical-speak word for excellent is "unremarkable."
Damn, here I spent my entire life trying to be remarkable and now I find out that's not exactly the best case scenario. Fortunately I failed. The report for the pelvis scan, for example, says this: "There are no enlarged lymph nodes. The rectum and loops of bowel and mesentery and urinary bladder and uterus are unremarkable."
Unremarkable! Well shoot, it may never win me a Pulitzer or make me rich, but my new motto is: Woooo fucking hoo, three cheers for unremarkable! May I dwell in the land of the unremarkable forever.
Anyway, back to the scans. The biggie of course was the chest scan, because my primary tumor was a mediastinal monster the size of a grapefruit, wedged between my lungs and heart, pressing against my superior vena cava until no oxygen passed through and pushing outward against my sternum until it cracked. Here's what the chest scan had to say:
"The MediPort is seen in the right chest wall. The chest is otherwise unremarkable. There is a small smooth low-density mass in the anterior superior mediastinum that may be residual thymic tissue. There are no enlarged lymph nodes. There is no hilar mass. The lungs are clear. There are no nodules or infiltrates or pleural fluid.
The previous CT thorax dated August 16, 2006 were reviewed. The previous exam showed massive lymphadenopathy in the anterior superior mediastinum. The recent exam shows this has decreased markedly. There is still a small anterior superior mediastinal mass."
So, there's still this small remaining mass. I know from what I've read that it's probably scar tissue, dead cells, and debris, the shriveled corpse of the evil Brenda. A PET scan might have been more informative, but I also know from reading that even PET scans tend to give false positive results on mediastinal masses, because there's often residual inflammation which lights up like a Christmas tree. Short of an open chest biopsy, the only way to know for sure if there are still a few active cancer cancer cells lingering within the small remaining mass is to watch it over time. This is an extremely aggressive form of lymphoma, and if the beast is still there it will move quickly to reclaim its lost territory.
So. I know that little piece of mass is still lurking in there, and that it may or may not be innocent. Statistically, there's about a 35% chance the cancer will recur, most likely within the first year. But there's also a 65% chance that it won't. In the absence of new symptoms my next scan won't be for another six months. Six months of waiting, followed by six more months of waiting, etc., ad infinitum. In the mean time I'm just going to concentrate on healing and revitalizing my unremarkable self, fixing my broken life, rebuilding my strength both inner and outer, doing whatever it takes so I can deal with whatever lies ahead.
This is what a totally unremarkable person looks like.