Friday, May 2, 2008

Where I Am Now

Met with the oncologist on Monday (April28). She was much much more forthcoming with information--gave more information than at any other visit. This is good. I am not going to say I will definitely stay with her forever and ever but I no longer feel that I should explore switching to the doctor at MD Anderson. Some of the things I learned were: I can take Tarceva as long as I want, or until it quits working. It works, as in, to shrink tumors, in about 10% of patients. But if you define "it works" to include both shrinkage and stopping tumor growth, then it works in about 40% of patients. My oncologist has only one patient who has been taking it for a year. Seems like it may not be a good long term solution. We will see.

Of course, if Tarceva does not work or stops working, the next option is chemotherapy. I asked the oncologist if the fact that these nodules/tumors kept growing during and after chemo means that chemo did not work and she said yes. That does not mean that it might not have killed other much smalled cancers, but it did not work on those tumors. According to my CT scans, there are several other small nodules in both of my lungs, each about 2-3mm in size. These are so small that the doctors cannot tell if they are scars, cancer, or what. They have to be at least 5mm to really even be properly visible on the scans. I worry about the possibility that any of those could grow (or maybe they are growing but they are so small right now it is hard to tell that they are growing). The news that chemo did not work is very very discouraging because when I think of all the sacrifice that was made for me to have that treatment, by many people, and all the sickness I went through, well, it feels discouraging to find it was for nothing.

Or maybe it was for nothing. No one can say for sure if it killed other cancer cells that we cannot see on scans. The next chemo would be rougher. More sacrifice. Still, I don't definitely have to do it yet...

Met with the radiologist on Tuesday (April 29). He was quite friendly, even charming. We met with him to discuss the possibility of doing ablation on my tumors, as a local treatment. He said that the bigger of the two nodules is the one that he would want to do first (they can't do both lungs at once). It is in a difficult spot, high up towards the top periphery of my left lung. There is a big nerve and a big blood vessel nearby, both structures which need to be avoided. He said my ablation was in the top 30% most difficult! But he seemed competent and confident, so I have good hopes that it will be alright. Probably this would be a procedure done in the morning and I could go home in the afternoon, but there is a possibility that I would have to stay overnight in the hospital. There is damage to the surrounding lung tissue, but nothing too bad, and would not take away more than 1% of my current capacity (which is supposedly so great!).

Anyhow, it seems like a good idea, to just kill that growing thing and be done with it. The radiologist mentioned that I could use ablation in combination with Tarceva, so Captain Obvious and I thought that sounded like a good idea. I emailed the oncologist and she said I can start Tarceva after the ablation (it might interfere with healing, so best to start afterwards).

So, that's the plan. I am going to do the ablation on May 15 and start Tarceva after that. The Tarceva will cause fatigue, diarrhea, and skin rash. It is required that you avoid sun exposure when on Tarceva. Perhaps it will help keep me alive for another 20 years.

We took our house off the market. Too much health issue stuff facing me and the house was not garnering enough (rather, any) interest. We're staying here after all.

Captain Adorable is more and more wonderful all the time. While it is true that I love being with him every minute of everyday, sometimes I want Captain Obvious to take care of him on the weekend while I go do something by myself. So far this has happened only maybe once (or twice, I can't remember). This does not mean that I want to take Captain Adorable to daycare, it just means that every now and then Captain Obvious should care for his son while I go have a bit of adult fun!

Yesterday Captain Adorable did something so sweet I have to share. I was holding him and I gave him a couple of crackers. He had them both in one of his little hands, and said "Mama!" and fed me one! I almost dropped him with surprise and pleasure. He's said Mama for quite a while now when calling me, but has never used the word to offer me something! :) He's getting into books again, too. I love having his little body in my lap while I read a book to him and he turns the pages. So cute.

No comments: