Tuesday was my quarterly cancer check-up, and we had decided some weeks prior to celebrate the occasion with fried chicken and champagne, a special gift bottle from Sue, a lovely lady and friend at the gym. Fried chicken has become a rare and special meal for me, given the low regard that fried foods must hold in my nutritional pyramid. And champagne because – well, it’s still thee beverage for a Special Occasion.
We made this decision to cheer my Jan 7 check-up – regardless of its outcome — because:
- Test results indicating ‘no evidence of disease’ (NED) would warrant a celebration of two years with no evidence of disease.
- Test results reporting a recurrence of cancer would still prompt an appreciation for the 21 months that I was cancer-free.
Either way, NED or no, Sue’s champagne and the Colonel’s chicken would speak to us on a milestone day. Odd, yes, but not all of life’s choices are even.
So that’s what we did, we savored our fried chicken and hoisted our glasses of champagne. But what, exactly, did we celebrate?
As I’ve written, PSA test results tell me how I’m doing in my contest with cancer, and PSA levels of less than 0.03 are considered ‘undetectable’ – no evidence of disease. Higher than 0.03 is a pisser, as I experienced with my first recurrence of cancer from mid-2010 to mid-2011. So what to make of test results that come back at exactly 0.03?
For that’s what the number was last Tuesday: 0.03. Call it barely detectable or call it essentially undetectable.
Either way, I confess to having the mean reds over this outcome. I had hoped – Oh, how I had hoped! – to be no evidence of disease: to be two years’ NED as I approach the seventh anniversary of my diagnosis, that would have been huge to me. Still, I can’t call it ‘bad’ news, because it certainly could have been (much) worse. ‘Borderline’ thus seems to me to be the appropriate label, the descriptor that, for now, best applies. Not really good, not really bad; neither here nor there but on the border between. So we’ll check me again in July to see what’s more, and then we’ll proceed as necessary.
“Thrilled to hear u are still celebrating,” daughter Stephanie texted in response to my PSA news. “Enjoy life!”