Monday, May 21, 2012

Seeking nothing

This week is going to be a week in doctors' offices unlike any I've had since...early spring.  Tomorrow I'm off to Iowa City for a mammogram and surgical follow-up, Wednesday I'm off to the dentist for a root scaling (more on that in a bit), Thursday is my quarterly PET scan plus blood draw and port flush, and Friday is PET scan results day.  And I suppose if we're true to a 7-day week then I can include my toe follow-up appointment next Tuesday.  I am the least nervous I've ever been for these tests, possibly because I feel so fabulous.  How can I have cancer lurking in my liver when things are going so well?  How could a tumor be growing in my brain while I just co-wrote and submitted a sweet little review article?  How might my lungs be fostering cancerous nodes although I breathed so deeply as I biked to work last week?  These lines of evidence suggest that I am cancer free where it counts.  

I hope I can keep up this positive attitude up throughout the week.  The familiar butterflies in my tummy were just starting to fly away.    

What is this business of root scaling?  A few weeks ago I decided I had enough sick leave built up to tend to routine checkups, including my eyes and teeth.  The results showed that my eyes have not changed, but my teeth are another story.  They are still 100% cavity-free, pearlie-white, and strong, but my gums have receded a bit.  I noticed that they receded during chemotherapy, and I noticed that they did not "grow" back.  But the change was minor, caused me no problems, and ceased to get worse after chemo ended.  Well, my dental x-rays revealed that the problem is much greater than my phenotype suggests.  I have had significant bone loss due to bacterial biofilms that have formed beneath the gum line.  (Shout-out to bacterial biofilms and those of you researching them.  They are the coolest, but not when they are in my mouth.)  My outstanding dental hygiene regimen that has long included daily brushing, flossing, and mouth-washing was not sufficient to prevent these pesky bacteria from digging in in the relative absence of my immune system.  Boo.  

I was diagnosed with early periodontal disease, which can be stopped in its tracks via root scaling.  The hygienist will use a special sonicator tool to disrupt the bacterial biofilms that are thriving below my gumline.  It'll be relatively uncomfortable, and so local anesthetic will be offered.  I will have to go in for two sessions of root scaling, having half of my mouth scaled at a time.  Tomorrow will be the first of the two.  It will be a bummer, but not so bad.  I just harken myself back to the spine biopsy, or the post-mastectomy drainage tubes, or any day during chemotherapy, and I instantly realize that I can handle a couple of sessions of root scaling.  Boo-M.  

One reason I am in such a good mood is that I had a remarkable weekend.  I took the girls to the Twin Cities to see one of my dearest friends from grad school, my amazing college roommate, and one of my favorite former labmates.  We also visited the Minnesota Children's museum and Minnehaha falls.  Nothing like introducing your children to old friends to bridge the gap between life pre- and post-cancer.  Needless to say, it was a most enjoyable and therapeutic weekend.  

Come and get me, scans, -grams, and exams.  You will reveal no cancer in this girl.  


  1. Glad u r feeling awesome & had a fun wknd. You failed to mention that u r looking very stunning lately too! If we can help this week just shout!

  2. Thinking about you and your family often. Love you mucho.


  3. Will be thinking of you this whole week! xo


  4. Ah so life goes on. Hmm I love the attitude of cancer freeness!!!! What a great trip you had. I go for my yearly BooB check thursday with my surgeon. It's been a year since I have been biopsied. Glad for the experts that have watched me so diligently. Thanks to all the scientist that are creating better diagnostics for all parts of us. You too shall pass with flying colors. You go girl!!!!