day 6 lung biopsy OK – probably

I started Monday at 7 am reporting to interventional radiology for a lung biopsy. In the CT last week the only thing that concerned my surgeon was a small nodule in the lower right lobe of the lung. I was again impressed by the efficiency and friendliness of the clinical team that took care of me. The doctor who did the biopsy was a colleague I knew from committee work, and seeing him here in his clinical element was a interesting. 

Occasionally when people asked me where I worked, and I told them that I work at MD Anderson, and in Academic Affairs, I learn that we are a huge institution with many different areas. Academic Affairs is a collection of departments that work to support our academic personnel – faculty, fellows, trainees and students – for their academic activities. We help them enter the institution, we support their learning and development by providing access to information and assuring academic standards and accreditation, we help them get their academic achievements into the wider world and we support their community, health and well being. But there are many people at MD Anderson who are daily engaged in the fight against cancer who do not connect with us – the clinical staff. I am rarely in their world – until now.

The biopsy went well – the hour I spent shuttling in and out of the CT as my doctor positioned the needle and recovered tissue flew by, largely thanks to sedation. Recovery went smoothly and I checked out mid-day to go home to rest the afternoon. 

I have to say, this was so far the scariest part for me. Not the process, but the fear that there would already be spread to the lungs. That could take the disease to whole new level, and probably require more extreme measures and/or alter my outlook. Today I got the preliminary good news that cytology (checking the cells quickly under the microscope by an expert) did not show any abnormality. More to come, and I was warned that it was a small lesion, and so hard to be sure that the right part was biopsied. So phew. 

Probably. Welcome to the ambiguity of these things. This reminds me of a dominant impression from watching my wife go through this experience: that you don’t often get black-and-white answers and that you have to regularly make difficult choices based on incomplete data. Sometimes it is as much an art as a science. 

PS Final pathology also gave the all clear on the lung biopsy, so provided that representative tissue was obtained, this is good news. Now we watch it on scans over the coming months.

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