I met with Dr. Oncologist on Friday to discuss the results of the colonoscopy. She too was delighted that there was nothing to biopsy. My elation faded, however, when she answered my question, "what happens if my colon is still glowing on the next PET scan?" She said that that is when things get more complicated. Either we continue to watch it, or if the region has increased in metabolic activity there might be some exploratory gut surgery in order. Ugh! I don't actually believe that this will be the outcome, but one never knows, does she? So we'll just hope that the glowing colon will go the way of the glowing spine, lungs, and chest wall and stop glowing in time for the next PET scan.
My next PET scan is at the end of May.
In the meantime, a body part from the peanut gallery has decided to participate in the post-cancer fun times. I have been having an issue with the big toe on my left foot. I wasn't even going to mention it in the blog, because I thought it wasn't cancer related, but the podiatrist has mentioned certain possibilities that close the gap between my big toe and cancer. Gulp.
One day before we left for Santa Fe, I noticed that my big toe was hurting around the nail bed. I thought nothing, literally nothing, of it. It's a toe. Also, sometimes things hurt periodically and then they stop hurting. Right? Surely you all have experienced some random pain somewhere in your body, and you don't know what caused it, and when you wake up the next morning it is better if not resolved entirely. This was me and my toe.
Well, in Santa Fe it got worse: redder, angrier, more painful. ("More painful" is not a comment on the pain level itself, just a comment on an increase in pain. I was not limping or anything). So I soaked it in epsom salts and smeared neosporin on it. No resolution. As a side note, it is not an ingrown toenail because 1) I have good toe hygiene! and 2) the reddness is around the nail plate at the base of the nail, not the sides of the nail. Also, there was no injury or incident that I remember between me and my toe.
Darn it if the thing hasn't been getting worse. The pain has stayed at the same low level, but it is now a little bit black-and-blue under the nail bed while being red and inflamed on the nearby skin. I took my audience with Dr. Oncologist on Friday as an opportunity to get her medical opinion on this 2-week-long toe issue, and she in turn sent me to Dr. Podiatrist.
Dr. Podiatrist has an excellent bedside manner, a soft spot for microbiology, and a gift for explaining the possible causes of and outcomes for my problem. In short, I am a fan. (Why couldn't HE have gone into gastroenterology?) Unfortunately, my toe doesn't fit any textbook phenotypes, so he couldn't make a conclusion without a biopsy. We agreed that it is a bit too soon to rush into a biopsy. So I am on a course of antibiotics in case it is an infection, and I am to watch it for changes.
And here's where the connection is made to cancer: his concern is that it could be a melanoma (skin cancer) that just happened to develop under my nail bed. It happens, albeit rarely. So if it suddenly becomes irregularly shaped or continues to increase in size, a biopsy of my toe and toe nail is in order. I forgot to ask if this would have showed up on my PET scan a month ago. Are my feet even scanned? I have no idea.
Also, who on earth has to worry about melanomas under their big toe nail? Apparently the girl who had inflammatory breast cancer.
My preferred hypothesis is that it is an infection. Cancer is still to blame for this possibility, I think, due to a continued weakened immune system. Please join me in cheering on the powerful antibiotic cephalexin (I used this antibiotic to make discoveries in graduate school!) and hoping is makes it all the way down to the toe peanut gallery.