I would usually be writing an update in February, since that is when Anthony is usually do for his quarterly check-up, but we had a little scare over the past couple of weeks that led to the check-up being sooner rather than later.
About 3 weeks ago Anthony was complaining of pain near the area where the tumor was removed. While I was looking in the area he was complaining about, I noticed a bump sticking out of his chest right near the scar from the needle biopsy, pretty much where the original tumor was. He was reluctant to let me feel it because he said it hurt. I felt it anyway and it felt very hard, almost like the original tumor felt. This pretty much freaked me out. I tried not to get too upset about it, saying "it's too far out to be a recurrence." It didn't work.
A few days later we called the clinic and told them about it. They went back and forth and finally decided to do his 4 year scan a few weeks early to see what was there. We did the scan on Monday, January 14. We looked at the scan ourselves, since they gave us a CD with the images on it. Sure enough, we noticed something about 5 mm right in the area we were feeling.
By Thursday, we didn't hear anything about the scans so I figured it was nothing. On Thursday afternoon, though Dr. Masterson called Maria and said the CT report found a 5mm nodule and that we should probably go to Anthony's surgeon Dr. LaQuaglia and have him look at it. She recommended a biopsy of the tissue to make sure it was nothing. More freaking out... Before we went, though, I looked at his chest again and it looked like the area had shrunken. I thought: If it was a recurrence, it wouldn't shrink. I was still pretty uneasy, though.
We went to see Dr. LaQuaglia on Tuesday, January 29th. He took a quick look at the scans, felt the area and said "It is probably just a local reaction, or swelling, but I'm not sure." He also kept saying "It is too far out to be a recurrence." That made me feel better a bit, but not quite. He asked if Anthony would stay still for a needle cytology, or if I thought he would need to be knocked out. He could do the cytology that day if he didn't need to be anesthetized. Anthony is always so good with these tests and I wanted to know right away what this thing was, so I told him he would be OK with just a local anesthetic. Anthony knew exactly what was going on and he said "I DO need to be knocked out."
We had to wait a while for the procedure room to open up and the whole time we were waiting, he kept saying "I just want to leave". I told him we had to find out what the bump on his chest was and we didn't want to keep scanning him. He said "I don't care about being scanned. It's not bad. You can scan me as much as you want." At this point it is not the fact that it is inconvenient to have him scanned, it is the extra radiation he is getting with each scan. Anyway, he wasn't happy.
We waited around for the room to open up and about 1:30 PM we went in. Anthony was very nervous and was on the verge of crying a couple of times. He was a trooper, though. He stayed totally still and let Dr. LaQuaglia put the local anesthetic in without crying. Once he had the local, he didn't really feel much until the near the end when he started saying it hurt.
Dr. LaQuaglia's nurse practitioner Carol was so nice. She stayed up by Anthony's head while I held his hands and she kept asking him about video games and other things to keep his mind off of what was happening. I was also trying to bring up things to make him less nervous. But we must have just been talking and talking, because at one point Carol said "do you want us to stop talking now?" and he said "yes".
After Dr. LaQuaglia took enough tissue samples, the pathologist looked at them under the microscope right in the room. The preliminary results were that it was benign, but we had to wait for the final results. Last night, Dr. LaQuaglia called and said the final results show that it is benign, too. That is why I waited until now to post anything. I wanted to have official word of the results.
Five pounds and many gray hairs later, everything is right in the world again...thank God.
Anyway, we have a clinic visit in a couple of weeks for this last quarterly visit. That's right, I said LAST. We have only two scans and visits left after this. One in August and one next February. At that point it will be five years post-treatment and he is considered officially "cured", for what it's worth. That won't stop the worrying, though.