The Big Sick

Changing Lives

The Big Sick

Melinda Welsh
Source: Sactown Magazine

It was Dec. 12, 2018. My husband Dave and I awaited another meeting with my oncologist on the third floor of UC San Francisco’s Helen Diller cancer center. We were both experiencing “scanxiety,” a term cancer patients and their loved ones use to describe how they feel before new results come in from a CT scan; X-ray images often reveal life-changing developments—a timeline altered, dream aborted, life shortened. Though the news about my disease had been surprisingly positive in recent years, my husband and I still saw mortality around every corner.

After undergoing multiple surgeries and rounds of radiation and chemotherapy in the first year and a half of cancer, the disease had spread anyway and I was told I had only a short time to live. Though I’d responded well since then to immunotherapy and gene-based medicines, it had been five months since my last set of scans and several months with no treatment of any kind. So we sat waiting for the appointment with Dr. Alain Algazi—UCSF skin cancer specialist and research scientist—with the disquiet that comes from having heard bad news from doctors on many occasions.

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The cancer had disappeared. All of it. The Davis-based journalist chronicles her incredible journey through the “kingdom of the sick” and her new life after near death.”