I know people are reading, and concerned, so though I had posts planned, let me jump to the present day (June 6) and total confusion. I've had two endoscopies with biopsies that were read as what's known as signet-ring cell stomach cancer. The second of those readings (with more extensive biopsies) was confirmed by the University of Chicago. But no one is going take out a stomach based on what amounts to one thorough endoscopy. So the University of Chicago did their own, third, endoscopy with biopsies and ultrasound (signet-ring cancer often causes a thickening of the stomach wall). Today, the U of C surgeon called and said, "These are preliminary results and we won't have our multi-disciplinary meeting where we present your case until next Tuesday, but based on what we know so far, we don't think you have stomach cancer."
I think it was the first time in human history that someone heard that and answered "I was afraid you'd say that." Lemme explain: diffuse gastric cancer, which is what I might have, is often missed by endoscopic biopsies. It doesn't grow in a tumor, but in little clumps of cells, either on the inside of the stomach, or in the sub-layers of the stomach wall. It's not really surprising that one, or even five endoscopies would miss it. So endoscopies that don't find cancer don't get me off the hook; what needs to happen is for someone to look at the slides that were read as signet-ring cells and say "Oh, those look like signet-ring cells, but in fact they're something else." That hasn't happened yet, and now begins the third major search: for a pathologist or group who specializes in diffuse gastric cancer. Clearly, this isn't bad news, but if I do have a cancer that just wasn't detected the third time, I'm not thrilled about leaving it in me. But surgery is postponed for the moment (it might have happened as early as next week), and I might actually go elsewhere to be examined.
The sympathetic oncologist says: "This is the first lesson: you're not in control."