The Search For Hidden Monkeys


Now that my insurgent tribe of bad monkeys has been, literally, taken out, along with their whole neighbourhood (sorry about that folks!), I have my oncologist team chomping at the bit wanting to do a thorough search for any monkeys who may be hiding elsewhere in my body, or perhaps who escaped the initial search and remove, and will come back in the same area to attempt to resurrect the rebellion. I think they call that “returning to the scene of the crime”. Or local recurrence, in boring medical speak.

So my surgical oncologist has scheduled me for the first of my follow-up scans in June; an MRI of the battlefield area to check for any monkey stupid or brazen enough to pop his head up from that shattered place, and a scan of my chest, because apparently the chest area is like an irresistible tavern of plenty for monkeys looking for trouble.

My oncologist wanted me to do a CT scan of my chest. I did one back in January that showed all quiet on the breastren front (ok, I know that was bad). I intend to keep it that way! But I do understand the need to check once in a while, because bad monkeys can be sneaky monkeys and start a party in a once quiet neighbourhood. It’s best to shut those down before it gets out of hand.

Okay, so my monkeys have morphed from insurgents to partiers. I guess the motivations are different, but the results are still the same – chaos, anarchy, and a mess.

At any rate, that they must be watched is the consensus, but I do have an issue with the call for a CT scan of my chest this soon after the last one. I have heard that a CT scan can expose you to up to 400 times more radiation than a simple film scan. My GP heard my concerns about that and shook his head and said “No. Not at all. More like 75 times.” as if that made it ok.

I did some of my own research and found this cool little site that may or may not be accurate, like the rest of the web world. But it does reaffirm what I have been told as far as radiation comparisons.

Well, seeing as radiation is like bananas to monkeys… it made little sense for me to expose myself to that amount of radiation once a year for ten years. My GP did agree that seemed excessive for the very remote chance, as described by my oncologist and what little literature there is on Low Grade Fibromyxoid Sarcoma, that this could metastasize in my lungs. Even my surgeon had agreed, right before surgery, to do a film scan this time instead of a CT scan, but I had to email his assistant after and get a scheduled CT scan changed to a film x-ray, as per our last-minute before surgery agreement (he was probably hoping I wouldn’t remember that deal, what with all the drugs and all).

And then I got another reminder to have a CT scan. Now I know that a CT scan will show them more, but this is kind of like asking for trouble in my opinion. It’s like driving a truck load of bananas to my nice quiet neighbourhood and shouting aloud “I sure hope there are no bad monkeys around here!!!” If there is a monkey or two still lurking, one could imagine their ears perking up and noses sniffing the air, and soon they will be looking for where we stashed those bananas. And then it’s party time in my lungs!

So I will have to resist my oncologist’s enthusiasm to find new monkeys. I think because this cancer is so rare and not well documented, there is a temptation for him to make a splash in his field. I know it’s not about ego, entirely, but about helping others, but me being dead sooner because of over zealousness in the radiation department isn’t going to help me. Sometimes just saying no is what a girl has to do!

If my oncologist could, I suspect he’d shrink himself like in the movie The Fantastic Voyage, and enter my body in his little craft, seeking and destroying bad monkeys. I’m not sure I would trust him though. Being a surgeon, he seems to like rearranging bits and pieces (that’s a post for another time), so I’d be worried he might use the little laser guns or whatever he has on his tiny ship, to rearrange my insides. Which may be beneficial, and in fact just what I need – lord knows they must be kind of messed up with 5 decades of careless living – but I’d rather be able to keep my oncologist where I can see him and keep an eye on what he is doing.

It’s easy for them – in fact he used that term, when I asked him during the primary tumour removal surgery if he would take out a wider margin too, and he replied it wasn’t prudent if we didn’t know it was malignant, and it would be “easy” for him to go back in later and do a wider margin, to which I replied “Sure. Easy for YOU!” – but at the end of the day, they go home or go golfing or working on their shrinking formulas or whatever they do…. and I go home with MY body. I can’t leave my body, no matter how many substances I abuse, or how much I transcend. I am kind of stuck in it, so I’d like to make sure that I don’t just let people come in and tromp around and leave their mess. I’m the one who has to live with the mess.

But I know bad monkeys can leave a bigger mess and cause more damage, if they are allowed to run rampant (and they LIKE to run rampant!), so I do need to do my best to make informed decisions about how often and how thoroughly we go looking for those monkeys. It can be very tricky to know what to do, so I often listen to my inner voice and this time it is telling me… do not bring truck loads of nice ripe bananas to your lungs. Monkeys are sure to follow.

hiding-monkey

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5 comments on “The Search For Hidden Monkeys

  1. It’s quite spectacular how you’re facing your monkeys. I hope if ever the day comes I have the courage to face my monkeys as bravely. I wish all the monkeys in your world find an endless banana supply on another realm and leave your land forever…
    AnnMarie

    • Thank you! I hope you never have to face monkeys yourself. They can be… annoying. And more.
      Yes, I think monkeys would be happier in Banana Land or somewhere cool like that. I’ll make sure they get the brochures lol.

  2. It is difficult to know what to do. Sounds like you’re on top of your instincts and what’s sensible. Just don’t keep from doing something important because you’d rather not have further fussing around and it’s easier not to – ’cause that isn’t a good enough reason not to be safe and sorted. Hrrmm.
    I know you’re not saying it’s that, just saying in case it’s a slight factor somewhere.
    (Of course you wouldn’t want to be prodded and poked and sliced and radiated further.)
    I know it’s tricky, and know what doctors can be like.
    I hope they wouldn’t suggest a course of action that could be mega damaging right off though? Maybe reiterate you only recently had the scan and see what they say, but don’t rule it out completely yet?
    Just make sure you’re doing the right things for you in both the short AND the long term. Look after yourself and get strong and healthy to the best of your abilities and wits.
    Sounds like you’re doing a good job with all the research and listening to your instinct and body though. xx

    • Thanks Jack. I have considered this carefully and that’s why I talked to my GP about it too. He agreed it seemed excessive and not worth the risk to do CT scans of the chest all the time. I just did one in January and everything was fine. This cancer grows slowly so I’m sure it’s still fine. In fact the odds of me having cancer anywhere else are something like 11%. But if I were to do too many CT scans I increase those odds, right? So I need to find the reasonable balance. Doctors don’t have to live your life, in your body. It’s always “easy” for them to do stuff that may actually not be in your best interest. I’ve always thought critically about what they say and I do always take into account any factors such as my own fears or emotions. I think this is a reasonable and considered decision on my part. I’ll do a CT scan next time around maybe. I’ll talk to the oncologist about it again when I see him.

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