Thursday 14 June 2012
Assessment day. Steve went off for his X-ray first thing, then we moved on to the day clinic to hear what the doctor has to say. The usual wait sitting on our own in the consulting room, which we find agonizingly long, then the doctor entered - one we have met before, but not the consultant who seems to have the knack of putting us at ease.......
......the usual questions "how are you feeling?" "any problems?" "any coughing?" "are you on any medication at all, even non-prescribed medication?" I wondered how Steve would answer this, as he takes supplements to help boost his immune system and an anti-inflammatory med which, as well as helping with his arthritis, has been found to suppress tumour growth in some studies. He mentioned the latter, but the doctor said nothing, other than another long, slow "oo---kay" which gave nothing away, but wasn't exactly reassuring.....
On to the table for a chest examination, percussion then listening to his breathing through the stethoscope.....then, at last, some feedback.
The doctor was pleased to see how well he was. Steve pointed out that he usually gets weighed wearing his fleece, with a big bunch of keys, wallet and phone in the pocket, but today he'd removed his jacket before getting on the scales, which would explain the apparent small weight loss.
She then looked at his notes and said it had been a while since he had a CT scan - in fact he hasn't had one since 2009. She said she thought it was time for a new one, partly to have an up-to-date baseline for future assessments, and partly because the radiologist had noted what appeared to be areas of change on both the current X-ray and the last one. Nothing significant, possibly a millimetre or so in some areas. However, a scan would show any changes in more detail.
In some ways this news was not surprising. We have been told at previous assessments that his mesothelioma was growing, but so slowly that the difference was imperceptible in X-rays taken three months apart. It only became apparent when comparing the most recent X-ray with the one taken in 2009.
To all intents and purposes, the disease was stable. We were also told at the outset that if there were any signs of change they would look more closely on a CT scan. We should be grateful that this is the first time it's happened in the three years since diagnosis.
In spite of knowing this, I confess to feeling slightly apprehensive and uneasy that the doctor wants Steve to have a scan now - for no other reason than it's reminder that there has been some slow disease progression and it's reached the point when they want to look more closely. That said, many people with mesothelioma seem have a scan before every assessment, so he's the unusual one in that respect.
Whilst I'm feeling somewhat apprehensive, Steve, on the other hand, is much more positive. He's pointed out that few millimeters change over three years is not an aggressive growth and he still feels fine. Unlike some Meso Warriors, pain is not an issue for Steve and, most of the time, if he didn't know he had mesothelioma he would be blissfully unaware of the sleeping dragon inside.
On the positive side, the doctor said there's no great urgency to have the scan. She will arrange an appointment for fortnight before his next assessment so that we can look at the results when we meet again. Unless he has a problem in the interim, she doesn't want to see him before mid-September, when he is due for the next regular three-monthly assessment.
Time to put the apprehension behind me so that we can get on and enjoy life over the summer!