I met with my doctor on Tuesday. The news was good enough. No one was jumping for joy, but it certainly could have been worse.
Lung Cancer: The good news is that there is ‘some’ improvement in my cancer. No one can say exactly how much, only that it looks a little better than the last scan. My cancer isn’t measurable; it never will be, and I’ve come to terms with that. On the scans, it looks webby and cloudy with a ‘ground glass’ appearance. (Here’s an example; it’s not me.)
Pleural Effusion: I have to tell you, this one sneaked past me. Evidently at my last scan (May, in the hospital), I had some pleural effusion around my right lung. It must have been pneumonia-related, because it’s gone. Woohoo!
Spine Metastasis: I still have that lovely spot on my T-8 vertebrae. There was no comment on whether it grew, shrank, or stayed the same. We discussed the drug Zometa, which can be used to strengthen bones; I declined it, as I feel that the risks for me outweigh the potential benefit at this point in time.
Pulmonary Embolism: This one disappointed me. The pulmonary embolism is still alive and well in one of my left lung arteries. It remains nonocclusive, which means it’s not blocking all blood flow. It’s standard for these to resolve in three months, and only half that time has passed. I will continue taking Lovenox injections every day. It’s a large dose for another six weeks, then a lower preventative dose after that. I no longer mind the shots, which is good since I’ll probably take them for the rest of my life.
El Lumpo: This wasn’t part of the scan, but I thought you might want an update on our favorite hematoma, El Lumpo. After a course of antibiotics, El Lumpo shrunk to one half its size. It is no longer painful, and I think it continues to shrink.
That completes this ‘State of the Union.’ My next study will be a PET scan, although my doctor hasn’t yet determined a timeline for it.
I will continue chemotherapy as scheduled. My next dose (round 4) will be the last time I have carboplatin. After that I go on a maintenance schedule and receive only Alimta and Avastin. (This assumes my insurance company approves both.) I’ll receive chemotherapy every three weeks until my the cancer starts fighting back or I can’t handle the chemo. After that we will explore other chemotherapy cocktails or possibly a drug trial. Pharmaceutical companies are working on second generation ALK+ drugs, although it’s hard to say when or if they will be approved. My doctor often says, “I have plenty of things on the shelf,” and I trust he does.
Meanwhile, I’m very glad to be on a schedule where I can anticipate when I’m going to feel crummy. I’m at the mercy of chemo side effects for approximately one week after treatment, but then I have two relatively normal weeks to live my life alongside cancer.