So today’s post will be a little more difficult than most of the past ones. Mostly clinical stuff to share, and one thought. In the course of nature, there are shifts from one season to another. When those shifts occur, things change. With health, we apparently go through seasons too. Sometimes things are bright and sunny, and other times there’s a chill in the air, snow on the ground, and everything is longing for Spring. This past week, even though it’s June and summer is on it’s way, medically speaking, I’ve gotten a bit of cold air.
Just to catch up from the last post, this past Tuesday a routine blood test showed that my body was potentially producing more clots that it should. So that afternoon I was scheduled for an ultrasound test, and the next day, a CT scan that focused on blood flow in my chest (and a peek at the tumors too to see if any changes occurred). Today I got all the results and reviewed them with my oncologist.
Indeed, there were two new clots in my right leg (for a total of three now). More significantly, there is also a clot now in my right lung and pulmonary artery leading to the lung. The radiologist also noted this is causing right heart strain. They also found a thickening of the esophageal wall (no tumor at this time) adding concerns of possible esophagitis forming. Then they threw in a return of an enlarged spleen. The report finished out showing that the tumors on my pancreas, liver and surrounding veins and arteries are unchanged after three months of chemotherapy. Finally, at the doctor’s office, we received the results from my recent tumor marker test. This is the first time since last September that no improvement occurred after a month of chemo.
So what does all this mean? Well, considering I actually feel pretty good and am able to function like most people when not on chemo, it means I test really poorly and feel really good for someone in my condition! To be honest, I’d rather have it this way than turned around and feeling terrible when not much was wrong. I am very thankful to have energy to be outside, running errands, visiting places and family, and potentially getting back to work on a reduced schedule. So even though much on the inside appears to be in disarray, I have been able to enjoy a high quality of life between chemo cycles.
Christy and I have been trying to put all this together and for now have reached this conclusion. With so much going on inside my body, I now understand why chemotherapy cycles have been difficult lately and why I feel winded when doing too much. Today, it also seemed apparent that the path we’ve been on has begun to either plateau, or degrade (depending on what stats you look at). If chemo cycles mean extreme fatigue, and extreme fatigue means less activity and more clotting concerns, then it seems best to hold off on further chemo treatments until we can resolve some of the other issues going on. The last cycle will be it for now.
We’re also trying to get an appointment this week while visiting in Boston at one of the leading cancer clinics in the country. My doctor encouraged us that if we’re in the city already, why not see if they have any ideas we haven’t considered. Unfortunately any clinical trials out there are still not possible as my platelet count is half of what is mandatory to participate in nearly all cancer trial programs. So we’ll see if this clinic has any other options.
If no new treatments are available, we’ll continue with our naturopath and keep seeking out “alternative” therapies that make sense (there are way too many “snake oil” remedies out there still). Most importantly, we are going to take advantage of the energy God has given me to enjoy our lives to the full — something I’d encourage everyone to do by the way.
When I asked my doctor what her prognosis was without treatment, she simply said, “Truthfully, it’s all up to the Man upstairs!” Web sites show lots of statistics on this. But we’ll continue to put our lives in God’s hands and trust that He has the best plan.
Thanks for listening. Getting this out helps you to know how to pray effectively, and knowing your love and support during these difficult seasons means so much to me.