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It's What's Inside - Or Not - That Counts

Landmark day is fast approaching with a checkup to see if my carcinoid cancer is staying away.

This is an important and nerve-wracking week, except my nerves seem to be solid so far.

I'm scheduled to visit Stanford University Medical Center on Friday for my first set of scans since my last surgery in June. Considering how much of my bowels, intestines, appendix, etc has been removed over the course of two surgeries, I have to imagine most, if not all, of the carcinoid cancer went with the organs.

So, I'm not too worried that we'll see a big comeback by the cancer … certainly not yet. Maybe in another 40 years, but not yet.

I know my wife and my parents are kind of worried that the scans will come back positive, but I'd rather think that it'll be positively negative. Er, what? Never mind the doctor lingo. Just go back to the couch and watch another episode of House.

I can't deny that it's important for the scans to come back clean. If something does show up that shouldn't be there then we'll have to reconsider my course of treatment and I might even end up on the operating table again.

My only hope if I do need another operation is that doctors can work the incision with the other two on my stomach to weave a fun pattern, maybe a checkerboard.

The monthly octreotide injections I receive are a pain in the butt - literally - but they should be holding any remaining cancer in check. If not, there are a number of clinical trials looking for patients. I trust Dr. Alex Metzger, my oncologist at Marin Cancer Institute, could help me get into one of those if we thought it would help.

I celebrated World Neuroendocrine Tumor Awareness Day on Nov. 10 by getting my injection at the Marin Cancer Institute. I never have to spend too much time in the lab getting my shot, just long to drop my pants and bend over. Other cancer patients spend more than an hour sitting in well-padded chairs, while hooked up to IV drips. Some have family and friends with them to watch videos or ready stories. Others just relax and daydream. It's actually a comforting environment, so I don't mind going.

I'd hate to start the process over again, however. I want to feel like I'm healed, like I've beaten this cancer. Maybe I have beaten it, but I always go back to a comparison between a cancer survivor and a recovering alcoholic. Clean and sober for decades, a recovered alcoholic is technically still an alcoholic. If I'm healthy and tumor-free for the rest of my life, I'll always be a cancer survivor, which means I still have to fight for my health every day.

Check out these and more videos from the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation symposium at Stanfor in May.

Nancy O'Brien November 28, 2011 at 09:57 PM
Hang in there, buddy and be tough. I am currently in my fifth chemo cycle out of eight. Was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cance in June. I am completely resected ( and minus a few organs), so my first scan (some time in March) will be telling. I am at Mills Peninsula. Send me a message if you want to talk privately.

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