Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In the chemo room, Chapter IV

A quick update, with more to come soon.

The PET scan I talked about in my last post (look down this series of posts to find March 10) revealed a "profound" response from my body to the Irinotecan and Erbitux mix of my last round of chemo.

The quote is my doctor's. Thomas Kenney, my oncologist, presented my case to the tumor committee of Porter Hospital today because he wanted the medical staff to take a look at what he saw and did not see in the scan.

What he did see was a single, still-active, cancer-producing lymph node in my chest that is considered a primary site for lymph-node production of metastasized colo-rectal cancer cells; what he did not see was any more production centers. Neither did he see any obvious reproduction of cells in my lungs, but he was going to double check that before presenting my case to the tumor committee. I presume he didn't see much when he took that second look.

That's all great news, of course, even if the single lymph node indicates I haven't yet stopped abnormal growth of cancer in the Schwab body.

But it did change Kenney's thinking about what to do next. There are some clinical trials of new cancer radiation treatments being done at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and since my cancer only was showing up in my chest, he thought I might be a good subject for localized radiation to kill all the cells in that area.

If there is no microscopic cancer-cell production still going on in parts of my lungs, the radiation of the chest nodes might indeed cure me. But if the lungs are still growing little tumors, like bulbs in a spring garden, the cancer eventually will grow large enough to be picked up by the scan again, perhaps in three to six months.

Kenney has to consider all those ramifications in deciding what treatment to recommend to me. After all his ruminations though, we'll talk about the next, best treatment options, and I'll decide what I want to do.

Of course, if I can afford it, I'll do whatever I can to kill off the stuff growing inside me. I figure it is going to take me another seven years to finish the novel I've started, and to make a success of the business I am just starting. No one can guess the percentages playing for or against me, but if this "profound" Schwab body is making a bet, I'd lay odds its going to get it all done.

I'll update you soon on my next treatment decision.

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