Kevin's Dead Cat

After surgery sliced off an entire tumor and 1/3 of my tongue, plus six weeks of radiation therapy, I've been re-learning how to eat, drink, and talk with my newly re-constructed tongue and coping with side effects. But the cancer came back and I don't know what's going to happen next.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Plot Thickens

Dr. McNicoll called me this afternoon. It's never a good sign when he calls me on a Monday. I was in the corner dressing room at Target trying on yoga gear when my cell phone rang. He found out some of what Dr. S told me last week. I think he was a bit upset because after I told him that Dr. S said chemo won't cure my cancer, he repeated twice (and quite forcefully) "That's a very blunt way to put it. Accurate, but blunt. That's very blunt, but accurate... "

Now for the kicker: I asked him if Dr. S was right, and that we should talk about surgery, and he gave a lot of explanation as to the nature of my cancer and answered some of my questions. But basically, Dr. McNicoll said that surgery won't cure my cancer either. The cancer cells have likely spread, and that cutting me again is not something he believes will help. He said that he sent me to Dr. S because there are oncologists who are very aggressive in going after cancer cells. I may get sick, but I can always stop chemo treatment if I do. He reiterated that he's not a chemo specialist, but that he does know that surgery won't cure me.

I asked if he could suggest someone for a second opinion. For surgery he mentioned a guy at UCLA who he trusts and has a lot of confidence in. I said that I meant another oncologist. So he gave me the name of another doctor at Kaiser.

There was much more to our conversation, although my memory is failing me. If radiation didn't work the first time, it probably won't work a second time. Chemo won't cure me, only shrink the tumor. The cancer will spread, if it hasn't already. Surgery won't cure me.

I also remember him saying that he's seen my cancer before, it's very common. I have anywhere from three months to three years left. I guess anything I do now would be about increasing the length and quality of my life as much as possible.

Today is my Dad's 70th Birthday. We had a family portrait taken after I spoke to Dr. McNicoll. I asked my brother to meet me outside the photo studio early, and I told him in the car. I haven't told anyone else.

I'm afraid.


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