I now know why I was getting those mixed messages yesterday. Today, Dr. Kennecke, my oncologist at the B.C. Cancer Agency, told me that he looked at my CT scan results from last week, and:
- Despite the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the cancer in my rectum has grown, not shrunk.
- The spots in my lungs were not artifacts, but multiple further tiny tumours, showing that my cancer has metastasized (i.e. spread beyond its site of origin).
- I therefore now officially have stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer.
- The surgeons are going to perform my operation as soon as possible, maybe next week.
- I will have followup chemotherapy after that to try to address the lung metastases ("mets").
- The median survival rate for people in my situation is two years. If the doctors can successfully remove the rectal tumour and address the lung mets, my chances of surviving five years are somewhere under 30%.
To boil it down: my cancer has grown and spread. My goals now are to see the Winter Olympics come to Vancouver in 2010, and beyond that to renew my driver's license when it expires again in five years. But while my medical team and I will do everything to try to make that happen, there is a significant chance I might not live that long, that I might be dead before five years are up.
It's a heavy day. I have cried, and laughed, and shared a drink and nachos with my friend Simon, and hugged my wife and my children and my parents. And I will fight on. It's a fine line between acknowledging and accepting what could happen and denying it. I'm naturally an optimistic guy, but I can't pretend that everything will be just fine, because it already isn't. The future, even the near future, is a mystery, and I must walk into it.
Fuck you again, cancer. Even if you win in the end.
Labels: cancer, chemotherapy, family, friends, radiation, surgery