Monday, June 20, 2016

Weight of the Wait

All cancers are different, but brain cancer is in a league-of-it's-own, in both treatment and diagnosis.  The initial diagnosis, for most brain cancer patients, comes as a result of a side-effect due to the brain cancer (seizure, vision issues, nausea, dizziness, etc.), meaning that the cancer had time to grow and develop.  Mature tumors can often be scanned (via MRI w/contrasts) to determine what kind of tumor it is, which helps direct what kind of treatment it will require.  That entire process happens very fast with the first diagnosis, for most.

The second diagnosis is the absolute opposite.  See, after brain cancer is treated, you have many, many MRI's...first stage is monthly for a year, maybe two...then every 3 months...then every 6 months...then every year...then every other can see the pattern.  You might think that if/when they do find something on these scans, you would be rushed back into treatment (of some kind), but that is not the case.  Because doctors are actively looking for abnormalities in the brain, any occurrence is caught early on, and in some cases, so early that it can not even be treated until it grows and matures to a stage where scans reveal the cancer's make-up.  In cancer in other parts of the body, even the smallest tumors can be sampled and biopsied to determine make-up and the corresponding treatment...this is where brain cancer is very different.  Brain cancer can not currently be sampled without major surgery (in most cases, becomes complete resections, if operable at all).   Recently, after almost 3 years of remission, the neurologist called my wife and said the words we dreaded to hear..."There is a spot."  Then we are told that it is very small, not of much concern yet, and will need to be watch closely.  An MRI was scheduled for three months from now.

Fact is, there is really very little it could be other then cancer.

That means, for the next three months, we wait.  Hoping for the best, dreading the worst...we wait.  Trying to work, live, parent, and be...we wait.

Life in burdening, enough, without cancer...without the weight of the "wait".

1 comment:

  1. Hello CW Barr! My name is Abby, and I've enjoyed reading your blog posts. Thank you for sharing your stories and heart with the rest of the blogging community. I’m currently at Calvin College (in Grand Rapids, MI) working on a project called CancerEd. My team and I are developing curriculum materials to teach children about cancer in an interactive but scientifically accurate way, and we are looking to send out a survey to parents to better understand how they communicate with their children about cancer, and we would love your help with this. If you could email me at, I would love to give you more information about the survey and about our project. Hope to hear from you soon!