Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Lemons to Water Balloons

On Monday, I had my second CT scan to document my progress with the chemotherapy. We found out the results late yesterday afternoon and did not get home from Seattle until 6 PM. Since I am a political junkie, the Presidential Debate took precedence over updating my blog. I do not have a lap top to type away on while I watch TV like Dave does.

This time with the scan, they made me drink a barium contrast smoothie. On Monday afternoon, my digestive system rebelled and I suffered through a tough day and night. We also had a wind storm in the night which did not help. Yesterday morning, the week ago effects of my chemo treatment kicked in and coupled with not much sleep, I was not at my best. As a result, when I went to my appointment yesterday afternoon, I wanted to hear the words "cure" or "remission."

The radiologist who did my CT report this time was different than the previous one. The words were less detailed and I did not read "dramatic reduction in size of tumors" like before. So, I must admit, I was feeling a little disappointed. But God answers prayers and my little prayer book had a prayer which says no matter what, we should be thankful to God and praise Him. We may just be thanking Him for things we do not yet know about.

The report really was good news. I am continuing to respond remarkably to the chemo. The tumor in my colon is NO LONGER THERE. They could not find it and used the word "resolved" in the report. Everything else remains clear of any sign of cancer with the exception of my liver. Of course, the multiple tumors in my liver are the biggest threat to my life and I want them out of there. The tumors have shrunk even more and some of the smaller ones have disappeared. When I expressed concern that the two large tumors had not decreased in size enough to satisfy me, my oncologist invited us to view my CT scan. I must say, it was fascinating to see my abdomen in little slices from the bottom up. He insisted that even though the lesions are still there and they are measuring them, this is not the whole story. He pointed out how the color had changed from light gray to dark dark gray which meant the bad tissue is dying. The oncologist stated that this was a good CT scan and report and I should be encouraged.

After we got home, Dave placed a call to his brother who is a retired radiologist to tell him about what we learned. Although he hasn't seen my scans, he felt extremely encouraged. He explained to me that the tumors in my liver are being destroyed but as they are obliterated, the lesion still remains as a cyst-like thing. How he described it to me is that I had two big lemons which caused me pain. Now, I do not feel them at all and can sleep on my right side and laugh at good jokes without holding my stomach. The deadly lemons are being transformed into harmless water balloons. In other words, the lesions may still exist but the tissue inside is turning into mush. Visually, I could see this change and I can feel this change and with my brother in law's explanation, I felt much more positive later last night.

What is next for my treatment? I will have four more chemos every two weeks in order to continue to kick colon cancer butt. This means I finish chemo the week of Thanksgiving and by Christmas, I should be feeling pretty good. My oncologist plans to meet with UW liver tumor experts to see if there are surgical or targeted therapy options to clean up my liver beyond what the chemo is able to do. Another option is that my disease will be treated as chronic with occasional but regular receipt of two of the newest drugs to keep everything at bay while I live a normal life.

I still have the damn colon stent which provides my with unending "joy" in dealing with my symptoms. I know now that any pain and bowel issues I have are not due to Tum the tumor---he is now dead and gone. Having it removed will not be a picnic but my oncologist will also look into how to best deal with it. This morning I feel grateful and hopeful. The care I am receiving is absolutely top notch and it is just down the freeway 25 minutes.

I continue to be astounded and happy to receive the prayers of all of you who are supporting me through my lemons to water balloons journey.