I just read an article from the Annals of Surgery entitled "Carcinoid Tumors of the Appendix" that estimates there is an 80% chance that I will have a tumor recurrence since my initial Carcinoid tumor was bigger than 2 cm. The article only confirms what I have been hearing for the last few weeks from my friends in the Carcinoid community. I found several more reputable medical journals that all have the same statistic, so it's safe to say that 80% is a pretty good estimate of what I'm up against.**
I know that percentages are just calculated odds, and some people beat them. It's a little deflating though to think that my first fight with Cancer may have only been the beginning. I know that I have the best doctors in the world, and the most supportive friends and family anyone could ask for... but sometimes, I feel a little rushed to hit the "Rewind" button and just get back to the way things were before my diagnosis.
I never want to alarm people or cause problems, so I pretend a lot. I pretend my joints don't hurt so badly that sometimes (like today) I can barely walk or move. I pretend my fevers are gone, and I'm sleeping well. I pretend I don't need nausea pills anymore, and all my "plumbing" is humming like a well oiled machine. I pretend I'm not worried that I still may be dying. Dr. Nash has made it clear that there is really nothing to do but wait - nothing will relieve the lingering aches and pains and anxiety; no magic pill or treatment can erase all that's happened to my body as a result of the Cancer - so what else is there to do but pretend that everything is fine? After all, isn't hope just another form of pretending?
I know that I should be celebrating the gift of a second chance, but to tell you the truth I sort of feel like a wimpy kid with a shiny new bike who has to ride home past the neighborhood bully everyday. It would be so nice if the bully just went on a family vacation for a while - at least until I got a little faster, a little stronger, and could outrun him. I guess if I do have to face him, I should remember to "fight like a girl" - and win.
** UPDATE: After I posted this, my sister (who is in medical school) reviewed the medical literature and said that the statistics were not given enough context to support a generalized 80% recurrence rate - which is great news! I have tried to find something concrete about recurrence rates without success... If anyone has good resources on recurrences of Carcinoid tumors of the appendix (greater than 2cm) following a right hemicolectomy - please forward them!
** UPDATE: I saw Dr. Nash in April 2011, and he estimates my recurrence rate to be as low as 10%