When Cancer Returns

Spinning Carnival Ride

The doctor’s eyes shifted slightly when he looked at me during the meeting following my scan. I knew.

And I knew immediately.

In the scan following my initial surgery, there were tiny, tiny spots in my lungs, as well as one in the T-11 vertebra. Too tiny to biopsy. So tiny the first radiologist said nothing. Possibly just part of my body.

In a scan just before Christmas, the spots on my lungs had grown and changed.

To be or Not to be

The tilt-o-whirl ride started when I was referred to a surgeon. He spoke positively about resecting the lung spots, although we might have to wait since they are so tiny that there is a risk of not getting all of the cancer — don’t want two surgeries on the same lung. My surgeon wanted to get a closer look at the spot on the T-11 vertebra, so I went for a spine MRI.

The surgeon called the next day. “I think the spot on your spine is cancer. That means we will not do surgery, and I’ll be referring you back to your oncologist.”

Death TarotBasically, if it’s in my spine, I’m screwed. The subtext is this, “Lady, I’m not doing surgery. I mean, why would we put you through it?”

Okay, so that afternoon in my office, I began thinking — endgame. What do I want the last year or so to look like?

At home in the early evening, my oncologist called and we talked as he looked at the new scan. He doesn’t think the spot on the spine is cancer. We have a long talk. A day later, after having multiple radiologists compare scans, they decide that it is not cancer since it has not changed in size or shape. It may be a bone island.

So. Now, I’m not dying. (Okay, we are all dying. But I don’t need to make immediate plans).

It’s the feeling of being handed the Death card. You hold it. You look at it. And this time, someone takes it back.

I then did the most logical thing in the world.

I got on a tall ship and headed to sea.

The Royal Clipper, sailing through the Windward and Grenadine islands.

The Royal Clipper, sailing through the Windward and Grenadine islands. Photograph by Ann Fisher.

Here is the review my trip on the Royal Clipper, one of the Star Clipper line.

Cancer Update

March 6, 2016: Great news! My CT scans are stable, so no treatment planned — instead, I get to travel this summer. Woohoo!

*** Image of the carnival at night is from Pixabay.

Ann Fisher

Categories: Cancer

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14 replies »

  1. I really like it: the doctors concluded it wasn’t bad, so you went on a cool trip. I am myself waiting to see my doctors and hear about what they have to say after a scan. I am concerned about calcifications that the report says must be considered in the context of the marker and a PET. I open the scan, and slice by slice, I can only see what’s up and what’s down, and not really much more. I was also thinking about what I would like to have done before I reach the finish line, wherever it may be, and I still don’t know. We enjoy life more than the rest.


  2. Thank you, Ann. I’ve come across your blog by accident – I read the “Train” story and loved it. I look forward to enjoying more of your future posts!


  3. I am happy for your good news. Although I do not have cancer myself, I know the roller coaster experience of the cancer adventure all too well – my partner has stage IV colon cancer.
    Enjoy your travels this summer!


    • Hhmm. I’m not sure Spock would have found going sailing logical. But I am very sure we would have interesting conversations about it. Kirk would have come sailing with me.


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