On New Years Eve I saw my doctor for a check-up. I have diabetes and other issues and so checking in from time to time is medically indicated. Hands were shaken, blood was drawn, labs were sent.
A few days later he called me back and shared with me that the level of a protein indicating some kinds of cancer was elevated in my bloodstream and that he wanted me to have an ultrasound. Thinking this was fairly serious stuff, I promptly said "yes" and went along with the plan and had the ultrasound performed on January 6th. I let my employer know that there were some issues in progress.
It came back clean. I was very pleased and went so far as to buy myself a trinket I'd been lusting after for a number of years, a replica of a Civil War era sword, figuring that dodging a bullet of that magnitude was worth a tiny bit of celebration. I also let the boss know that I'd come back clean and we were both deeply relieved.
My doctor, however, remained concerned at the unexplained elevated protein level and ordered an MRI. The last time I did not take my doctors advice, it cost me, so I again went off to see folks with big machines and high tech and had an MRI performed - but with fairly high spirits.
On Friday, January 10th, I got back the first results from my doctor - a suspicious lesion was present on my liver. He referred me to a hepatology clinic and off I went, deeply concerned. I began to talk with a small group of friends about the situation and to reach out for support, as I was a bit frazzled.
Monday the 13th I visited the hepatology crew...and was diagnosed with liver cancer and given a prognosis of 6-12 months to live, with treatment - becoming symptomatic (i.e., symptoms so you'd notice) in 4 months at the earliest. I was told that like any prognosis of this kind that the numbers were almost certainly wrong that it could be longer or faster depending on just what kind of cancer was present. I was then referred to the University of Washington liver tumor group for treatment, second opinion, and further diagnosis. I was advised to "get all the logistical stuff in order so you can focus on medical."
That's where things are at as I write this. I'm going to keep posting (on this and other matters) as things progress, and it is my intention to do my darnedest to beat the odds. But I intend to keep posting on this topic as long as I can in the hopes that I can offer folks some insights on "how to do this" and, more than likely, "how not to do this." I leave it to each of you to determine which is which.
What I've done so far? Beyond the whole "run in circles, scream and shout" bit I've notified my younger brother and his wife and their daughters, I've begun the process of making sure that the userid/pw combinations for websites and social media that I created/maintain have been passed on to the relevant folks to ensure a smooth transition, and I've put in place similar plans for this blog and my other "social web presence."
This Saturday I will be making burial arrangements (in case those should those become necessary), and I will be seeking spiritual counsel on a number of matters - as well as arranging a proper funeral, Methodist post-funeral potluck, and a wake for those inclined. Should I be required to make an early departure, it is my hope that my friends and family mark my departure with laughter, gossip and love - not tears and sack cloth.
I begin a journey with two possible endings - either some form of recovery or passage to what I am told is a kinder and gentler realm. I hope and will fight for the first - but am comforted by the notion of the second.
The support of my friends, family, and chosen family has been astonishing and wonderful in these early days. I am deeply grateful for each of them - and lest I be too distracted to do so later want to throw out particular recognition at this point to FarmFam, Scribbler, and MattG. I don't mean to neglect anyone by not mentioning them at this point, but they have really gone (and continue to go) way above the call of duty and I am immensely grateful for their efforts and support and that of others who have also stepped forward with offers of help, support and shared knowledge.