The first time I actually thought I was a dead man...
The researcher for the study, Barbara Biedrzycki, (an extremely nice person) was doing my medical history while we waited for the CT scan results. She got buzzed on her text pager, and said, "Dr. Laheru wants to know if you brought any of your previous scans with you." I replied: "So, that means he saw something bad on the scan." Her face fell with a strange mixture of having just spilled a secret and genuine empathy ... Barb should never, ever play professional poker.
I calmly said, "He sees something on the scan, and he wants to know if it was there on previous scans; this is bad news." Her face fell farther. I said "It's okay; I long ago became comfortable with my own mortality; all I ask is that I get honest information. What did the text message say?"
She replied, "The message says there are suspicious lesions on your liver." And I thought, how ironic that I get the news of my inpending death via a text message on a pager... I also simultaneously thought that There are Suspicious Lesions on Your Liver, would make a pretty good title for the last chapter of an autobiography.
The other false positives I had in Houston were so soon after my surgery that it was easy to believe they were false positives; recurrance can happen that soon, but is unlikely. But right now I'm in the thick of when bad news would come, so it was easy to believe.
An hour later, Dr. Laheru showed me the CT scan after confirming the lesions weren't there on previous scans. There were two: one was so small as to not merit discussion (CT scans routinely produce all kinds of noise). The second was large enough that it could certainly be cancer, but Dr. Laheru said that - given my weight gain and overall health and vigor - he would bet against this being a metastasis, and that the real indicator would be my CA19-9 bloodwork, which we wouldn't get until that evening. He also scheduled me for an MRI of my liver Thursday at 8am.
Early that evening he called and said my CA19-9 blood marker (31) was in the normal range, and that between that and my health, he was reassured whatever was in my liver was not spread of the cancer.
We are still doing an MRI on Thursday morning at 8am, just to see if we can figure out what the lesion is, but barring some unexpected result on the MRI, I'm going to get the vaccine (and more importantly, we don't think my cancer has come back!)
As a footnote, Dr. Dan Laheru is another impressive individual I have met along the way: smart, thorough, honest, and willing to call a patient in the evening, since he knows that waiting for this kind of news is nerve-racking. The quality of my medical care has just been amazing, and I am very grateful for that.