My Own Personal Grey

The Cancer Thing


Here’s the deal: Just Got home from the hospital after major surgery for a tumor. Why didn’t I say anything about this surgery/cancer thing earlier? Well… Frankly, the Internet has a tendency to be invasive, hysterical, and overly “helpful” and that was the last thing I could deal with after the totally out-of-the-blue news that I had a cancer. So I didn’t discuss this in public until now.

What I had: a neuroendocrine tumor of the ileum. Basically a rare tumor in my intestine, found on a routine medical test in mid September–right after DragonCon. It was a slow-growing cancer with a very low-impact which, initially, looked like no big deal. Later it looked much worse, then not so bad, then maybe not so good… so you understand why I didn’t make this public–there was so little that was really easy to understand or explain. Also, after a lot of tests and discussion, it looked as it the whole thing could be resolved with a fairly aggressive surgery and lightweight follow up. Which still appears to be the case.

That doesn’t mean I’m not still a cancer patient–I am. This is something that, even on the best case scenario, will have to be kept an eye on for life. But it’s not going to shorten my life terribly. Survival stats for this form of Neuroendocrine cancer are in decades, not months or years, so when my doctors and I talk, it’s about what may be coming up in 10-20 years and since I’m already 50, this isn’t going to affect me a lot more in the future. I’m pretty much done with the hard part, now that the surgery is over and I’ll be around for a good, long time. There will be follow up, there may be specialized treatment which has a very low impact and isn’t traditional chemo (since this stuff doesn’t respond to traditional methods worth a hoot.) Also, there’s no genetic link or causal trigger for this form of cancer, so it’s not something other people in my family or those I’ve worked with in specific circumstances or lived near have to fear–it’s not caused by radiation or chemicals or weird genetic experiments by clandestine government labs. It just happens. And NEC in all forms makes up only 2% of all cancers diagnosed in the US–of which my particular subtype is slightly less than half, or about 3,600-4,000 total patients in the US right now. There is a more aggressive form of NEC skin cancer that’s pretty terrible and mostly strikes people over 70, but that’s not what I have. I have the very boring, “indolent” variety that lurks about thinking bad thoughts and not doing much about it–like the world’s laziest supervillain.

The only reason this situation became a major surgery was that “Tumore´,” as I like to call it, had been quietly supervillaining away for a while and had sent some troops off to visit my liver, which meant the surgeon had to do some serious combat there and it’ll be a while before I’m really back on my feet. But it appears that we’ve won the major battle. So now I’m going back to take some pain pills, drink a lot of water, and get a nap.

Be well–and see your doctor regularly!