Cancer Survivor

Under Surveillance

Since my last blog, I underwent a cyst aspiration procedure. Inside my abdomen and outside my colon, at the site of the surgical site, I developed two cysts. It caused a narrowing of my colon near the rectal area. Last Wednesday, Dec. 9th, a very long, thin needle was inserted through buttocks (into my right check to be exact) to extract whatever was inside the cyst. Before that happened, I was sedated and run through another CT scan. Then I waited to hear the pathology report. What was growing inside of me now? Seems I exchanged a grapefruit size tumor for an egg sized cyst. Hopefully, I lost the cancer in the switcheroo.

Yesterday, one week later, I had my follow-up visit with Dr. Ampuero. Finally, the “What next?” question would be answered. He told me that he was “cautiously optimistic.” My CA-125 (the cancer marker) remained remarkably low. After two tests, the fluid from the cyst was cancer free. My red and white blood cells were bouncing back. His physical examination confirmed the removal of the cyst and blockage. All of that’s good news, right? But something he said gave me pause. “Now we will keep you under surveillance.” What? Was I a suspect in a crime?

The term “under surveillance” originated as a legal term that means to keep a person under close observation or supervision. Or it describes one in custody or under suspicion. However, now the phrase is used in several venues:

• Police surveillance: The investigation of criminal activities
• Electronic surveillance: The use of electronic equipment (like a nanny camera) to observe activity.
• Vigil/watch: This describes placing someone under guard or observation for their protection.
• Stakeout: In anticipation of a crime a person has under-cover police observation around the clock
• Disease surveillance: The ongoing systematic collection and analysis of data about an infectious disease that can lead to action being taken to control or prevent the disease.

My surveillance falls into the final category. The doctor explained that this cancer “could” return. I must accept the possibility. It happens. But they would be watching. I now am on a schedule to ensure that this disease remains in remission. I will see the doctor every two months for six months, then twice every six months, and then annually. Each visit will include blood work and a physical examination.

I’m not sure I like being “under surveillance.” It has that “big brother is watching” kind of paranoia attached to it. Am I looking in the air for black-op helicopters, or outside my window for suspicious men smoking in their cars? Then, as always, God’s Word comforted me. He reminded me, that more importantly HE is watching me. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life… Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? …Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 5:25-34). I must live in the now. And right now, I am cancer free. That’s enough for today.