Yesterday was one of the hardest scans I’ve had thus far, and it’s not because they had to use a tiny vein that burned when the contrast was injected. It’s the first scan that I have had with no hope of getting “better” or not having cancer at all. After the doctors told me almost three months ago that I would always have cancer and that it’s just a case of managing it, I had a month of ups and downs until I settled into life pretty much as it was, more or less. I’ve mostly been not dwelling on it and trying to wring as much enjoyment out of the past few months as possible.

Of course, I’ve failed spectacularly on occasion. I spent several hours of my birthday wishing I’d never been born at all. When things go wrong, I sometimes think I wish for a terrible scan so I don’t have to deal with anything anymore, but if that wish were to come true, I know I wouldn’t want that at all. It’s a wish born of petulance and with a blind eye turned to the reality of dying.

I didn’t realize how hard it would be at the hospital, when even in my most pessimistic times, I still had so much hope. Even in the depression after my stem cell transplant, I was still so hopeful that I was done with cancer for good. After the Whipple, sewn up and sick for a month, I hoped I wouldn’t have cancer anymore. After the liver ablation, I had thought it wouldn’t come back anymore, that I was an exception.

Now it’s all I can do sometimes to not grab fellow patients by the shoulders and ask, Why is this happening to us? I actually don’t want any answers. I don’t want to hear that everything happens for a reason or that this is a plan. I definitely don’t want to hear it could be worse or I should take comfort in what I have. I don’t know what I want.

Tomorrow I’ll find out what the more sensitive scan has showed. From the way I’ve been feeling, I can tell maybe the news isn’t going to be good or even just meh. I’d like to spend more time on a break from treatment but I don’t think that’s in the cards.



I have many drafts of blogs that I started and never finished, including one about the two-year anniversary of when my pancreas tumor started acting up. One detailed all the good things that happened this summer, then something bad happened, and then it felt too late to post it. Part of the reason I haven’t been posting is because I had been busy trying to soak up every moment of the summer and enjoy myself as much as possible. I wanted to have a blast this summer and, for the most part, I succeeded, despite cancer and neuropathy. There have been several vacations, trips to see friends and family, concerts, bike rides, ferry trips, outdoor yoga classes, and a flurry of fun summer activities.

In general, it was a summer of high highs and low lows. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am and sometimes I’m so sad, I wonder if it’s possible drown in a pool of self-pity or choke from a lump in my throat. Earlier today, I found myself hoping a meteor would strike the Earth so I wouldn’t have to deal with anything. I realize it’s a bit selfish to wish for the obliteration of the entire world because of my small problems.

Already it has been two and a half months since I was told about the pancreas tumor. It seems like a lifetime ago. After a rollercoaster of a month, I finally came to terms with it. Today an MRI showed that it’s bigger. I was OK with the news; it’s what I expected. Sometimes, it’s smaller things that get to me, like noticing everyone waiting for an MRI is much older. That made me cry and it makes me feel like I’m already living the life of an old person, with the doctor appointments, medications, neuropathy, and scans. (Though I’m a year older as of last week.) Speaking of the neuropathy, it still bothers me, but the spinal tap showed no obvious cause.

What I fear more than today’s MRI  is the super-sensitive PET scan next week that will detect even the tiniest tumors. I think either way, the plan is for some targeted therapy that I am discussing with my oncologist next Wednesday. I’ve been enjoying the past few months as a respite from treatment. My life is broken up into chunks of time of relative health and illness. I would love for a treatment that obliterates the cancer and has no side effects, but I think the best I can hope for is something that keeps the tumor at bay and that doesn’t make me feel too terrible. I’ll know more next Wednesday, when I find out the next treatment steps.