There are two things that particularly suck about this stage of cancer treatment. Aside from the whole "having cancer" thing, that is.
First, very little is actually happening. I see Dr. C. once a month. Ever other month it's MRI time. Generally speaking, there's nothing to report. It's like watering a plant. Plant still alive? OK, great, don't forget to water it again later.
Second, I have to wonder if every slight ailment or discomfort is some horrible disease or metastasis, and it's not hypochondria because I do have brain cancer, which is a horrible, potentially metastatic disease. It usually doesn't spread to other parts of the body but "usually" is not "never," and 29-year-olds "usually" don't have brain cancer in the first place.
Case in point, that little pain I mentioned a while back, the one I feel under ribs. It hasn't gone away. At first I thought it might be due to the chemotherapy, as unexplained pains are a common side effect and I've had two sets of X-rays taken of my torso, one by an oncologist and one by a pulmonologist. Neither saw anything of concern. ...except I feel something that concerns me. There's something causing this. Lately I can feel something pressing on my ribs when I stretch, and I wonder if the right side of my abdomen isn't just a little bit distended along my flank. It could be my mind playing tricks on me. Or it could be another tumor. Or maybe a blood clot. Or an organ swollen for a more benign reason.
That side has always been a little odd. I lost some weight in college and when I took a deep breath I could feel something rubbing against the bottom of my ribcage, like it would naturally fall on one side but my inflated lungs would push it to the other. I still get that sensation sometimes. Sometimes it would "catch," and I'd get a stabbing pain if I tried to inhale too deeply. I always thought that was normal, like a "stitch" that some people get. It would always go away on its own pretty quickly, as if it were a muscle cramp. Who knows, maybe that's what it was. Maybe it was unrelated.
But I take solace in one simple fact: my bloodwork is rock solid. Nearly perfect. Not just in terms of platelet count and the like, but on my CBC I fall directly in the center of normal on all readings save one, which is still within normal bounds. Were something impeding the function of any of my gastrointestinal organs, that would show up in my blood. The question is, would all of it show up in a standard CBC? After all, they can't tell everything from that little test strip.
Maybe I'll ask for a full course next time I see Dr. C., just to be sure. Either way, I'm going to get to the bottom of this. I can feel something there, regardless of what the X-rays show. I don't know if it's swelling, or a cyst, or a tumor or what, but I need to figure out what it is, and take care of it if it's going to be a problem.
I got lucky when the neck thing turned out to be nothing but a cheap mattress. I hope my luck holds out.