It's been a year since I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. So six days ago, I got a series of blood tests, and yesterday I went to the first of my annual checkups with my hematologist.
Friends have asked me if I worry about this "Stage Zero" cancer which can become more serious at any time. I tell them that my doctor said I might still be having the annual tests when I am one hundred years old so it doesn't make much sense to worry now.
My doctor is on the oncology team at my health plan. When I walked into the full waiting room, I realized that most of her patients probably do have full-blown cancer, and I wondered how they were doing. There are all kinds of reading material about living with cancer and cancer support groups in the waiting area. Yet there was a buzz of conversation. It seemed as if, although these people are living with cancer, the emphasis was on living rather than on cancer.
When the doctor walked into the examining room, she barely got out "Hello, sorry to keep you waiting" before she said, "Your numbers are fine." We went over them. They are not normal, but they are within the range in which no action needs to be taken. She looked for swollen lymph nodes and found nothing alarming. She asked me how I was feeling and if I had had any infections. I feel fine, and have had no infections. And that was that.
Until next year.