Ineligible

I just received a phone call from someone doing a survey for melanoma research. I apologize if the name of the research study escapes me, it was short phone call. The woman on the phone asked me if I had active melanoma and I replied that, as of my most recent scans, I showed no evidence of active disease. She said that that was good for me but bad for her because that status made me ineligible for her study. I told her that I was glad to be ineligible and wished her luck and good day. Nothing like being ineligible for a cancer study to put one in a generous mood.

So yes, I still have no active disease, at least according to my most recent scans. I feel great so I have every reason to expect that my melanoma status has not changed. I have more scans scheduled for next month (my last were in late January). At first I thought I would postpone them due to the current COVID-19 crisis. I mean, healthy people should probably avoid hospitals now, right? That is, unless one is a health-care worker (hats off to them). But then I figured that things could be even worse later this summer or early fall. I don’t want to stop getting scans entirely, no matter how good I feel. So I guess I’ll go and have them done.

The doctor’s office did notify me that there has been a change of venue. Instead of having the scans at the main hospital where I usually have them done, they’ve been moved to a satellite campus nearby. I’m still nervous. In addition to entering a medical facility (hell, I don’t feel comfortable enough now to go to a grocery store) during a pandemic, I’ll be placed in tubes that I can only trust have been sanitized properly before I get in them. Lynn usually accompanies me to my scans, but she has wisely decided to stay home this time. There’s no point both of us risking exposure. I’m not even sure if she’d be allowed to wait in the waiting room or what the situation will be. Right now, we both see the virus as a bigger threat than the cancer.

There is also the matter of my consult with the doctor. Usually what happens is I have the blood-work and scans one day and then I meet with my oncologist a day or two after so he can examine me (basically he just palpates a few lymph nodes) and give me the results of the scans (not in that order). I’m going to see if he can forego the palpating and just read me the results over the phone or via a video meeting. I don’t see the need for the added risk and I’m not making a second trip to the hospital regardless. I think he’ll understand. These are crazy times.

As for the current crisis, we’ve both been sheltering in place. We make one trip out per month to pick up medicine (mainly insulin) at the pharmacy and we also run other errands the same day. That way, even though we’ve risked exposure, we’ll both know 14 days later that we’re probably safe, haven’t contracted the virus, and can’t pass it on to others. We get most groceries from doing online ordering and delivery, and we order other supplies from Amazon or other online retailers. Our recycling bin is stuffed to the brim with cardboard boxes every week. We now have about a three month supply of food, in addition to the fresh eggs that our hens supply. Our shopping now is just to replace what we use out of that stockpile.

As the various states start to reopen, we are both adamant that we’re not ready to go out there. We don’t think the state or federal government is telling us the truth and that the situation is worse than they’re letting on. I’m not sure how long we can sustain this. At some point our unemployment benefits will run out. I’m hoping to find work before that happens but I can’t count on it. I’m only looking at jobs were I could work from home 100% of the time, and while those jobs are out there, the competition is fierce. I had a phone screen for one such job yesterday. I know I was beyond qualified and I thought the interview went great, but I haven’t heard back yet, so I’m not counting my chickens. As the governor of this state is fond of saying, “hope for the best, and plan for the worst.”

I hope everyone out there is doing well. I’ll probably not post again until after my next scans. Wish us all luck and please be safe out there, or better yet, in there. And for all the melanoma warriors out there, I hope that you are ineligible, too!

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