Read Part 1 here.
Tuesday morning we got up bright and early to hopefully attend Mass at the National Shrine, which the website listed as happening at 7:30AM. Unfortunately, when we got there, all of the entrances were blocked off. We guessed it had something to do with Pope Francis' impending visit, but I can't say for sure. The website says the shrine is open 365 days, so...hmmm.
We headed over to NIH to grab a coffee from Au Bon Pain (it may be French, but I think the letters p-a-i-n should be stricken from all signage at a hospital). We sat in the open dining area on the ground floor, waiting for my CT images to be copied to CD.
We got our hands on the disk at 11:00 a.m. and headed to the Business Center to investigate. The radiologist's report, which had been so encouraging last time, gave no new information this time. My impression of it was, "Patient has a bunch of lung nodules. Other organs OK." The report contained no mention of the clinical trial at all.
Patrick loaded the images onto the computer and began measuring lung tumors while I compared his findings to the previous scan's data. We had hoped that this time we might have trouble finding some of the smaller tumors because they had disappeared, but no. They were all still there.
Some tumors, especially in the right lung, measured smaller this time. Tumors in the left lung were a little harder to pin down, but it looked like there had been some shrinkage there, too. RECIST criteria, which is what the researchers adhere to, dictate that the measurement is to be taken along the tumor's longest axis.
I was expecting to see big changes, like the ones we saw during the first follow-up, and so I was not sure what to make of the data we were gleaning. I was glad that it was almost time to meet my doctor so that I could get his take on the situation. To be honest, I went into the clinic feeling like a kicked puppy.
A nurse took my vitals, and weight, and showed us to an exam room. Upon the doc's arrival, he brought us out to the hallway, to a giant computer monitor. He pulled up three sets of images, one from March (prior to treatment), one from August (first follow-up) and the set from the previous day. He showed us how the target tumors (four of the seven tumors are considered "targets" for the purposes of the study) were measured. He confirmed that the tumors had decreased in size since the prior scans.
Back in the room, it wasn't sinking in. My concern was that the rate of decrease had apparently slowed down. It seemed like a bad sign. The doc said that "everyone in this whole department is happy about these scans, except for, apparently you..." He said that the tumors are at 25% reduction. We talked about the difference between the first set of scans and this one. Ever-so-slowly I was able to agree that what he was telling me was good news.
An attending physician joined us later, and happened to notice the plotting of data points related to the tumors' sizes that Patrick and I have done. I explained my tumor-naming convention (which I admit is a little "out there"). At that point my doc commented on the "Nerd Level" in the room. hahaha... When the attending physician asked, "Just what kind of engineers are you?" My doctor piped up, "Circus. They are circus engineers."
Good one, Doc.
Later, The Guy (principle investigator) visited us in the exam room. He said things like, "We could not have expected results any better than what we've seen." He was smiling. A lot.
They want more scans in a month. I'll be there.