Thursday, January 28, 2016

Follow-Up #5 RESULTS

Earlier this week, by RECIST criteria, the target tumors in my lungs measured 46% smaller than they were pre-treatment. This puts me officially in the "partial responder" camp.  wooHOO!

I captured one image from the CT scan to post here, so you could get an idea of how "Target 3" is changing.  The white areas inside the blue oval are cancerous tissue--a nodule right next to my heart.  The darker areas within the tumor show that it is becoming less dense! (The white blob above the text in the image is a cross-section of a normal blood vessel.)

One tumor (not shown) still looks pretty gnarly on the CT, but it is in an area clouded by scar tissue, so it's difficult to determine what is what at that location.  All of the rest of the tumors seem to be breaking up, becoming hollow, or shrinking. No new tumors were seen, and my CEA level remained at 1.1 (same as in November).

Excitement!  Relief!  Gratitude!  HOPE!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Happy New Year

Yesterday we took down our Christmas tree.  I was dreading that event, not only because it involves a lot of mess, but because having a fresh, fragrant tree decorated in memories and multi-colored lights smack-dab in the center of our home is, to me, one of life's most glorious peculiarities.

I am happy that Christmas 2015 left a wake of joy behind--not at all like 2014.

On the very last day of 2014, I met with a Big Deal physician at a branch of a university hospital here in Michigan to get a second-opinion on my case, and to find out if that institution offered any clinical trials that might help me.

It was a frustrating visit. The doc seemed to contradict himself. He said that I was "extremely healthy", but also that I was suffering from "a disease for which there are no known therapies." He agreed that the National Institutes of Health would be "the best place" for me, but tempered that with, "The chances of getting into a trial there are about 2%."

Thanks for nothing, doc. One thing I've noticed--and this doc is not the only one who did this--is that once they realize my case is "terminal", I become invisible to them. Instead of talking to me, they talk about me. No longer are we making eye contact, though I try. Usually, the physician will turn toward my husband and start speaking to him. Maybe it's a coping mechanism. Maybe they aren't aware that they're doing it. I notice. I am not dead yet. Look me in the eye and you'll see...

I tried not to let this guy's comments and manner affect me. I'd rather hope for the best than expect the worst. Where there is life, there is hope!

At the end of this month, I'll be back at NIH for follow-up #5. Last visit, I met criteria for Partial Response, pending a confirmation scan.  Follow-up #5 will include that confirmation scan. Suspense takes on a new sort of gravity when it's your own story being written! I will let you know what the docs discover.