Ch.200 An Unpleasant Surprise: I May Have Cancer

Ch.200 An Unpleasant Surprise: I May Have Cancer

May 3, 2023

          I’ve been concerned about having increased memory and other cognitive problems, so I scheduled an appointment with a neurologist at Mayo Clinic here in Eau Claire. Dr. Nye scheduled some tests, telling me after the tests they’d schedule the next appointment. I didn’t expect the next call to come from Mayo’s cancer center, though.  Still, minimizing the risk, I told myself the tests might indicate some potential issues that will need to be monitored. No big deal.

          Wrong. Big deal. I’ve just seen the results of the first tests that have been posted. I am low on two types of immunoglobulins (A, G) and high on another (M). Immunoglobulins are created by white blood cells in bone marrow.  They are antibodies that help the body fight off infections. I don’t know yet if they are definitive for cancer, but they make me more vulnerable to frequent and severe infections.

          I’m writing right now as a way of handling my fear. Not anxiety. Fear. I am scared of cancer – my mother died from liver cancer at 47 years of age. I know I should wait for further test results; I have an appointment set for a week from yesterday where I’ll get more information and perhaps a diagnosis and treatment plan (Maybe “I’m so sorry, Mr. Potter-Efron, we mixed up your labs with someone else’s. Your tests all came back normal.”)

          Here’s where being a widower and living alone is tough. I really could use hugs right now and the only volunteers are my dog Levi (willingly) and my cat Blackie (on his terms, of course). I am blessed with wonderful friends and family, but they can’t be here every minute to ease my fears. Fortunately, I will see my son Joshua and my friend John in a couple of hours, and another friend, Richard, later today. I’ve already asked Jenny to come to my doctor’s appointment next week. I’ve talked for an hour with my twin brother Don. I just wish each of them were here.

     I’m angry with Pat right now. “Damn it,” I want to tell her, “Why aren’t you here when I need you?” I want a real, physical hug, a long tender hug. Knowing Pat would be with me if she could be doesn’t help.

     Nothing like resenting the dead for being dead. 

ADDED NOTE: After many tests including a bone marrow biopsy (much less painful than rumored, thank goodness), my current diagnosis is “monoclonal gammapathy of uncertain significance” which translates to “Yes, you have cancer cells in your blood but not very many.” No treatment right now, just monitoring, and it may never develop into anything serious. Quite a relief.

Also, I want to thank my family and friends and many readers of this blog who reached out to comfort me and to share my fears during the last few weeks. It’s wonderful to know you care.