Another day, another doctor’s appointment.
Today, Dave and I are going to see a pulmonologist. We were referred to him by Dr. Kahn, and we’re hoping that with some blood work and the PET scan data, this new doctor will be able to rule out anything serious. There were two lymph nodes in Dave’s chest that “lit up.”
Dr. Kahn felt that it would be a good idea to rule out any sort of infection, such as Valley Fever. For those that aren’t familiar with Valley Fever, it’s a lung infection that is airborne in the dust here in the Valley of the Sun. It’s very common, and most people living here have had it, are living with it, or will get it at some point. Often, it can be completely harmless, and people show no symptoms.
About two-thirds of the people who are infected never notice any symptoms, or experience mild symptoms and never even get treatment. Those who have sought treatment showed symptoms including fatigue, cough, chest pain, fever, rash, headache and joint aches. Sometimes people develop red bumps on their skin.
In about 5% of the cases, nodules develop on the lungs which might look like lung cancer in a chest x-ray. A biopsy or surgery may be necessary to determine if the nodule is a result of Valley Fever. Another 5% of people develop what is referred to as a lung cavity. This is most common with older people, and more than half of the cavities disappear after a while without treatment. If the lung cavity ruptures, however, there may be chest pain and difficulty breathing.
Something like this is treatable…when we first rescued our golden retriever, she had Valley Fever. We had to give her antibiotics for quite a while, until the infection went into remission.
On Friday night, Dave and I had some time to ourselves. Isabel was working, and Ben was spending the night with friends. We decided to go to dinner and a movie. Dave seemed out of sorts…tired, and kind of depressed. It took some prodding, but I finally got him to open up about what was going on.
Though the news that we got last week was good, Dave was still worried. Cancer is such a scary word. The natural reaction for most people would be to get it out, get it taken care of. To be told that we would just have to be aware of it, and to keep an eye on it is disconcerting to Dave.
He trusts Dr. Kahn, and so do I. We both get the feeling that if there were truly something that needed to be done right away, it would be done. I don’t think that Dr. Kahn is shy about sending someone in for a procedure or starting someone on a regimen of chemotherapy, if it’s warranted. In fact, I think that I appreciate that he is not pushing for something that might not even be necessary.
For Dave, though, I think that it’s a scary proposition. This cancer is something that he will be living with. The unknowns are daunting to him. Because he’s always been relatively healthy, the idea that he will always have to monitor the cancer, and be aware of the things going on with his body is unwelcome, and probably makes him have to examine his own mortality.
Many of us have been in this place, at different times of our lives. As we get older, heredity and the choices that we’ve made in our lives start reminding us that few of us get through this life without some form of maintenance or treatment. Things like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc., touch more of us that we probably realize. Changes in diet and lifestyle, medications and a revised outlook on our lives come with getting older.
For Dave, this is the first time that he’s having to look at this for himself.
We talked a lot on Friday night. One of the very best things that has come out of this whole situation is that we were able to say again, more fully, how much we love and care for each other. Dave’s seen me through surgeries, broken bones, hair-brained schemes, two kids, dogs and cats, and a lot of miles. I told him again that I couldn’t stand losing him now. That’s just not in our cards right now. And, I want to make sure that he knows that I will be with him every step of the way. It’s not just his fight…it’s ours.