Just as the starfish is capable of regenerating a new arm if it’s torn off by a predator, so the liver is able to regenerate itself. As much as 80% of the liver can be removed through surgery and after one or two weeks, the liver regrows and restores itself.
I’ve never been that interested in my liver. All I really knew is that if you drank too much your liver suffered. Now I’ve learned that you can’t live without a liver.
It’s vital for life. It helps digest food, collects and filters blood from the intestines, stores nutrients, metabolizes food into energy, helps blood produce clotting factors, removes toxic waste from the body and helps maintain the proper level of sugar in the body.
I’ve become acquainted with my liver since cancer struck again last month. For the third time I’m facing the ovarian cancer monster and I don’t even have ovaries anymore.
Just as I do, ovarian cancer likes to travel. “A new irregular mass in segment 4 of the liver,” said the CT scan report. For me, the key word was in. Three and half years ago cancer was on my ovaries and on my bowel. Two years ago it was on my colon and on my lung. For the first time cancer has developed in an organ.
It sounded serious: this “3.4 x 2.4 cm mass suspicious for hepatic metastases” is inside my largest internal organ — one I can’t live without. But my doctor said “it is not a large burden of disease” and that gives me hope that chemotherapy, started three weeks ago, will bring the cancer down to a dull roar.
I was never interested in becoming a medical person but disease brings a number of “gifts”. One of them is the free medical education you acquire through deciphering diagnostic imaging reports and conferring nightly with Dr. Google. One treatment for liver cancer I found quite ironic: ablation kills cancer cells by injecting alcohol by needle.
Aside from the liver invasion, cancer has also got a foothold in my lungs. “Just a little complication,” I remind my self, recalling the movie, Brazil. But don’t write me off yet. Cycle two of chemo begins Tuesday. Watch out liver!