I’d be lying if I said I had looked forward to yesterday’s quarterly cancer check-in.
The day dawned with dread, heavy dread, born of a certain conviction that my blood test would confirm an increasing presence of PSA — and, therefore, evidence of cancer on the advance. My only jot of hope lay in how little my PSA might be up since April.
It was to be a long day, 11 hours’ worth, at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The medical agenda also included a follow-up with the radiation oncologist, a bone scan for osteoporosis, and, at day’s end, an osteoporosis drug infusion. With my mind focused on the PSA test, though, I took my lunch break at a nearby Irish pub, perhaps a subconscious quest for some luck o’ the Irish.
At 4:20 p.m. the PSA news came in. I had been weighed, my height taken, my blood pressure read, and I was now in exam room number G4315 — waiting for the results of the PSA test from my blood drawn in the morning. Every cancer patient will tell you of the mind churn, the anxiety, that comes with the wait for test results, however long, however brief that wait. The imagination seeks out, even creates, the darkest of cubbies to deliver you. A fellow cancerian has suggested we edit our t-shirts from Cancer Sucks to Waiting Sucks. Despite lots of practice over the past five years, I’ve still not gotten very accomplished at waiting for test results.
But then, I’ve had enough tests come back with unwanted news that maybe, by now, finally, and at long last, I’ve merely become conditioned to dread test results: I’m down, just go ahead and kick me.
Now the results were finally mine: April’s PSA reading was 0.04, and Monday’s was 0.03.
And there, in exam room number G4315, we traded celebratory high-fives.