I had an appointment with my surgeon Monday. He talked about the fact that we are in surveillance mode now. We discussed how important it is to have regular surveillance in order to make sure I am healthy. He reminded me that if rectal cancer recurs, it most often occurs within the first two years after the initial diagnosis; and it most often returns at the site of the original tumor, or in the liver or the lungs. I didn't really want to be reminded of those things, I don't like to focus on that possibility, but I guess it is good to remember. So, we have a four-part surveillance plan in place:
1. Vigilance - I have to pay attention to my body and listen to it. If I experience any of the symptoms of colorectal cancer - bleeding, excessive gas, change in bowel habits, abdominal pain - I need to report those symptoms to my doctor right away. (All clear for now!)
2. Physical Exam - I will see my surgeon and my oncologist every three months to be examined. Exams include blood work, and all the instruments of torture that I have discussed before. (Thankfully, my abdominal exam and all my surgical sites looked good yesterday!)
3. Colonoscopy - I will have an annual colonoscopy for several years. My next one is scheduled for September 7th. (More on that later!)
4. Scans - My surgeon agrees that the best scan for me is the PET scan. Unless something changes, a scan will be ordered every six months. I will have one scheduled in September. I won't know if my insurance will approve of another PET scan until the oncologist's office tries to make that appointment in September, so please continue to pray that a PET scan will be approved.
When I saw the doctor yesterday, here is how our conversation went:
The doctor asks, "How are you feeling?"
I respond, "I feel good!"
Then he asks, "Are you feeling strong?"
"Yes, I feel strong!" I reply, thinking that's a good way to describe it.
"You look strong," the doctor says.
And I wonder... is "strong" doctor-speak for "You've gained weight"?