I Can Breathe Again

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The last few weeks have been mentally taxing for me. I’ve felt broken in every possible way. The details are deep as fuck, and I won’t go there yet…

Suffice to say, I needed good news like I need oxygen.

First, I finally got my cast off.

Being immobile is the most soul-crushing, depression-inducing experience for me. While others work out for a hot body, I’ve always been driven by the cognitive and quality-of-life improvements. Fuck a hot bod if you feel like shit all the time.

Second, I had my CT and MRI yesterday.

I had been postponing these scans to allow some recovery before exposing myself to radiation, albeit at the lower end, thanks to my negotiation skills.

I made a strong case about the absurdity of subjecting me to a PET scan given the specifics of my case. I’m not against scans—they are essential in many situations. However, I am against overexposure. There will be plenty of time in the future for more invasive scans if necessary. Right now is not the best time. My new oncologist, a gem, agreed with my conclusions.

Results: no metastasis to the organs. Happy dance. This means that, yes, it is stage three with metastasis to the sentinel nodes, but it doesn’t appear to be anywhere else. For now.

Fun fact: many (not all) oncologists are unfamiliar with the latest literature. So, if you have a logical argument for why a particular treatment plan isn’t in your best interest, based on new solid research, please speak up. This is your fucking life.

You should be able to discuss these things with your medical team. Remember, they work for you.

My first oncologist pushed back when I questioned his conclusions and was clearly not familiar with the latest data on melanoma.

He showed me a handout when trying to explain his outdated position. I found someone else who is clearly a league ahead of many in the field. My new oncologist can have an intellectual conversation with me, explaining the biochemical responses these medications cause and how they interact with our mutations. This shows the depth of his understanding. He knows I prefer detailed explanations for everything.

I decided against immunotherapy due to it only offering a 12-13% increase in recurrence-free survival.

Not worth it to me, given the possible autoimmune issues and my history. I will keep an eye on various biomarkers with my functional MDs while continuing CTs and ultrasounds with my oncologist for the next several years.

I feel like I can breathe again, friends.

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