Staging/Naming My Cancer

20 Nov

My Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Molitoris, is the man on the left of the photo. He's the doctor that's done the best at explaining my cancer and the complications they've had in treating it. I'm going to try to make it simple here, but they have spent much time in the tumor board discussing me because of it's uniqueness.

I was born with a lump on my lower back at the base of my spine. At 3 months of age, it was determined that I had a rare Sacrococcygeal teratoma, a tumor wrapped around the base of my spine. I had surgery to remove it and they removed my tailbone along with the tumor. It was not cancerous but these tumors can become cancerous later.

Some part of this tumor was left behind. Because the medical records from 48 years ago aren't available, because the first hospital lost some of the tissue removed from me and because my colonoscopy was done incorrectly, they don't have a lot of answers about how this happened or what exactly it looked like when I was first diagnosed with cancer. That has made this hard to stage and difficult to work out treatment.

They are treating me for a more series cancer than I have due to the lack of hard evidence of what is truly going on. The cancer was in my rectum and traveled to my colon, but it wasn't technically rectal cancer, I had no polyps that turned to cancer. The cancer was like a sheet over the muscles of the rectum. And the proximity of the rectum to the Sacrococcygeal area is too close to be a coincidence.

They are unable to stage my cancer, but describe it as early stage cancer that was mishandled. I have a good prognosis, especially with the additional chemo I am starting in December.

I often think of Psalm 139 where the Psalmist writes,

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Knowing that the seeds of this cancer were sown in that teratoma so long ago and knowing that God knows everything that happened when he knit me together in my mother's womb gives me confidence that this path is where God wants me, that it is purposeful and has meaning. Otherwise, God would have done it differently. I can take confidence that God is handling my life well even when it's difficult or confusing or painful.

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