The next morning, Linds and darling baby, Will, came with me to get the test results from Dr. Grossmann. Again, the new computer system reared its ugly head for a moment: my appointment had accidentally been deleted and rescheduled for next week, yet no one had called to tell me! I thought the worst, sure that the scans were so bad that the doctor needed more time to study the results and options and break the bad news. Linds and I are well-known among Dr. G's receptionists, and poor Patti (who had canceled and rescheduled the appointments) couldn't say "I'm so sorry!" enough. When we said we didn't want to come back next week, she pulled some strings. "I've got good news & bad news," she said. "The good news is I found a spot for you today. The bad news is that it's not for two more hours. Can you wait? I'll give you some cafeteria cards for a free lunch!" Of course we agreed.
Sweet baby Will made the waiting time bearable. Everyone wanted to goo & smile at him and tickle his little tummy. He was so sweet. Such a good baby! All my vitals were good; I've even gained four pounds! Yikes! The new appointment time worked out to be better than the original one--not so many other patients around, which gave Carolyn and Dr. G more time with us. A tender mercy. Carolyn came into the exam room, beaming and cheery. "Your scans look great!" That was all I needed to hear to relax. She and I looked at the scans together and she showed me my drastically-shrinking tumors in my back and groin (I personally can't even feel them any more!) and how the little "spots" we've been watching for a while have disappeared! God is good, isn't he? My blood tests were better, which is probably from my better digestion & weight gain. Dr. G was a little concerned about possible anemia and the need for me to have another blood transfusion, but the low score was most likely a glitch in the computer system because I haven't heard anything further from him about it. I asked about a recommendation for a new ENT (Ear/Nose/Throat) doctor (wonderful Dr. Bradley isn't on my insurance plan any more...sniff, sniff) and I've already got a consult appointment with a Dr. Buckman next week. Dr. G said he's a surgeon, and since what I really need is to get my right ear cleaned out again (since the radical neck dissection, there is no moisture whatsoever in that ear), Dr. Buckman might be "over-kill". "Gunk" accumulates & clogs up my ear, and I can't hear! We'll see what they say next week. The neck scan actually shows a blockage somewhere by my ear...could explain a lot...maybe.
Dr. Grossmann was pleased to see that my "white patches" (I know there's a scientific name for it, but do you think I can remember it?) are still signaling the "death" of cancer cells in my back AND in my neck/face. I don't notice the facial patches, but he commented on it the minute he saw me. I told him that in the past three months, I've also developed a nice white "stripe" in my hair at the back that won't hold hair dye--my new zebra stripe! I guess to me those things seemed to be more age-related. Who knew?
After all was looked at and discussed, Dr. Grossmann said that I can go another three months before the next scans. He said that his main concern at this time is that my brain scans stay clear and that I'll need to stay on the 3-month schedule for a few years, since any melanoma brain mets that grow can be treated through surgery & radiation when they're found early. Though this is a scary thought, I also feel a lot of hope & comfort when he talks in terms of years. When I first started this journey three years ago, there was a "doomsday" feeling when we discussed the length & quality of life, living with melanoma. Dr. G is amazed at the wonderful new drugs and studies and trials to combat this cancer, and even said that melanoma's development of successful treatments is the fastest growing science among all the cancers. I'm seeing it in my own life with the success of the IPI drug; now, PD1 has been approved, and Dr. G says its success is even more astounding than IPI. God is really good, isn't he?
I'm looking forward to a summer without doctor appointments. I still have good & bad days, mostly with my gut, which is my "normal". One day recently, I could barely drive to pick up J at school because of the pain. Sometimes my well-laid plans to run errands or do something fun with family have to be put aside to climb into bed for a few hours while the pain subsides. It's a "normal" that I'd rather not have to deal with, but there are worse things out there...and I feel extremely blessed. And getting good news just automatically makes me feel loads better! (So do these adorable people in their Easter best! And, yes, I'm so sad not to have an Easter pic of my sweet J...)