July 13, 2010

Well it is just after 6:00 pm on Tuesday and I just walked in the door. My mom just dropped me off after another safe trip to Chicago and back. I keep saying I want to go back and count how many chemotherapy treatments I have actually had over the last 5 years. God has really protected me and kept my body strong in order to endure all of this.

We left for CTCA on Sunday at about 5 pm. After going through some heavy rain near Chicago and an accident that backed traffic up a bit, we arrived at our hotel at about midnight central time. The next morning, I had to be at the hospital at 9:20 to have my port accessed so my blood work could be drawn. After this, I went down to the lower level for my MRI. It has been six weeks since I had radiation (stereotactic radiosurgery) on a lesion that measured just over a centimeter on the left side of my brain, fairly close to my ear. My doctor said that after 6 weeks they do another scan to see if the radiation looks to have stabilized the tumor. Sometimes they can see a decrease in size at this point, sometimes not.

After my MRI, we ate lunch and then went upstairs to the second floor. I met with my nutritionist, my nurse, then my doctor, my natropath nurse, and then my care manager. It was one appointment after another! My doctor asked me how I did with the first round of this new chemo and I told him I did well. In fact. I have had no back pain since July 1, and haven't had any tingling in my left arm since then either. These are both good, seeing as how he hoped chemo would help this. My MRI showed the lesion that was radiated is half the size that it was, now measuring only 6 mm with no swelling. Yay! It looks like the radiation is working! That is the good news.

Somehow, my visits can't ever just stop with the good news. There always seems to be a bit BUT following.

The not so good news is that this MRI showed two other spots on my brain. Both on the right side, the one in front measuring 6 mm, the one in back measuring 4 mm. My doctor isn't thinking these are necessarily "new" spots. They may have just been too small to be seen prior to now. Neither has any swelling around it which is good, and both are really small. And we know that radiation looks to be working on the one 6 weeks ago.

I was given my second round of Ixempra, and was told that I will meet with my radiation oncologist in 3 weeks when I return to see what he suggests from here. Whether that is radiating just these two spots or rather the entire brain. I tend to think his recommendation will be the entire brain. I wanted to avoid this, but we will just have to wait and see. My CEA went up to a 1500, while the other tumor marker went down from a 95 to a 77. This seems to show that the chemo I am on may be showing some effectiveness in my body. Chemotherapy tends to not work so well on the brain because of the blood barrier around the brain. That is why radiation is needed separately along with the chemo. The CEA may be up due to what is going on in the brain.

My hair started thinning on July 4. This was a little earlier than I expected it to. Over the last couple of days, I notice it falling out more and more. Not so much in handfuls yet, but just enough to see it on the bathroom floor and that it tickles my neck and arms as pieces fall. Not sure how much longer I will have it for, especially with round 2 of chemo swimming in my veins.

I was encouraged that the radiation looks to be working, as I know that is an option for these other spots. I still feel fine and anyone who has seen me recently can see that. God has been extremely faithful to take care of me and I will never turn my back on Him. I still know that He can choose to stop all of this at any point. For some reason, this is the path He has allowed my life to travel down. Regardless of what they may be, I am going to enjoy the sights as I travel.

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