Today I met with my Dr at MD Anderson to discuss the results of a series of studies I had yesterday. The intent of the scans and blood draws was to gauge the response of my January radiation treatment. As has been the case over the past few years, my situation continues to challenge and baffle me, my family, and my doctors. There are basically 3 areas that were measured on Tuesday:
1. Radiologic measures of tumor size and appearance including MRI, CT, X-rays, and ultrasound of my neck, lungs, and back.
2. Blood tests for a protein secreted by the cancer cells in my body that is a pretty accurate measurement of how much disease is present
3. Blood tests for side-effects of the radiation treatment including red and white blood cell counts
The results are as follows:
1. No major change either bigger or smaller of the disease in my neck or lungs. And evidence of improvement of the single known bone metastasis in my 5th thoracic vertebrae
2. Increased by 40%
3. Both down, with one of my white blood cell counts (neutrophils) pretty low.
So, there are both good and bad signs. First, we’re really happy that the treatment had a positive effect on the bone met. The bad news is that it didn’t seem to do much for my lungs or neck and for the first time ever, my tumor marker really went up. The latter is super scary because we don’t know the details associated with that increase, like whether or not I have disease in areas we didn’t look (e.g. brain, pelvis) or if the neck or lung disease is growing more quickly and no longer responsive to the treatment I received in January.
Maggie was with me to meet with the doctor today. My mom also came to stay with Cassidy at the hotel. My mom seems to be doing pretty well but Maggie and I are both scared, confused, and very angry. One of the things most annoying is that one of my scans that had been scheduled for me yesterday got canceled because insurance didn't approve it. The purpose of that scan was to answer some of the questions we're left with. Unfortunately, insurance now doesn't have a choice...I have to get a PET scan, but will have to do so back in St Louis in a few weeks. More waiting.