Friday, December 7, 2012

The Good Kind (Mostly)

Was feeling good this morning, so I ran out to get some Christmas decorations and the makings of Christmas cookies. Aside from the fact that I was wearing my sunglasses, inside and out, on a rainy day, I felt...normal. I pretty much forgot about you-know-what.

Then I came home. The answering machine light was flashing, and caller ID revealed three recent calls, the second of which was from Dr. M. I would like to report at this juncture that my adrenal glands are capable of producing a full complement of adrenaline on demand.

Heart pounding, I listened to the messages. Dr. M, in his lovely way, spoke calmly and clearly and said that he had some information he'd like to discuss with me, and could I please call him back at such-and-such number, which happened to be different from the number on the Caller ID. It was very difficult to hear the number over the pounding of my heart, but he thoughtfully repeated it before the message ended. One gets the sense he's done this before.

I called. The phone rang and rang, and I was sure it was going to voice mail. Then Dr. M. said hello. He must have given me his cell number. Because, in case I haven't mentioned it, he's the kind of doctor who doesn't leave his patients a scary message on Friday afternoon, leaving them to simmer in their own anxieties all weekend.

Remember when I said there were essentially two kinds of ocular melanoma? They're called Class 1 and Class 2. Class 1 is the better kind to have; Class 2 is more likely to metastasize. Turns out Class 1 is subdivided into 1a and 1b. Class 1a is less likely to metastasize than 1b, but 1b is a lot closer to 1a than to Class 2.

I have Class 1b. What that means, as the doctor explained: survival rates at three years out are 93% (vs. 98% for 1a). At five years, survival rates are 79%. Not "there's nothing to worry about," but, as the doctor put it, certainly better than the flip of a coin. And way better than, "You're doomed."

I don't, apparently, have the laziest tumor known to man. But also, I don't have the most aggressive one. To put it in layman's terms, this tumor might be just ambitious enough to think about looking for a job, but it's going to be a job where it wears a plastic apron and a paper hat. A job, in short, that isn't going anywhere.

I can live with that. At least, dear God, I hope so.


  1. ((hugs))And always remember, you are not a number. You are more than a statistic. And yes, I know it's easier to say than to believe. As I said the other day, some moments you will have peace about it, and in other worry will be strong.
    But, I'm glad you are 1b and not 2. =)

  2. Visualizing (love the apron) and personifying your tumor is very healthy. I pray that such visions will keep it in check for many more years -- like 60 --70?

  3. I can't summon words that seem adequate but I can say Thank God! it is not 2... I want to laugh with you at the tumor in an apron. Remember when Ian was named Thor in utero? How about Igor - go nowhere:)

  4. I'm going to call this very good news. And pray that if your tumor decides to get a job, he gets fired the second day out for not washing his hands after going to the bathroom. (They fire people for that? Right?)