I was recently so honored to be asked to share my cancer story on my friend, Jenna's blog, that she named Grape Tootsie Pop in honor of her mom, Carol. Carol was part of our Fourward survivor group and we miss her so! Please feel free to pop on over and read if you'd like to hear how this whole cancer journey began for me... Vicky's story.
I've been turning thoughts over and over in my head, wondering how to share with you all. Its only just past a week since Dr. Panwalkar squeezed me in after he'd been away on vacation, but it feels like a lifetime ago with all the new territory we've covered already.
Dr. Panwalkar strode into the room and was headed straight for his chair when I instantly asked him about his trip. He smiled big and said it was wonderful- far too short- but good. But then he switched back to me right away and asked about the boys, as he loaded my scan results on the computer. I could tell he was all business this day.
He started his report with a summary- "Well the results are not terrible... but they're not good either." He proceeded to show my lungs with a new spot in my right lung now and growing spots in the left, my ribs on the left with a spot now showing after months of pain indicated something was already there, and my pelvis area, including a growing mass in my uterus. Click after click with areas lighting up left and right. I find myself drifting off a bit as he measures, and plots, and tries to determine just how much more activity and growth the cancer is showing. To me? Its all too much! What are we going to do?
I'm trying to just breathe deep and stay focused. He turns and faces me and says, "I think its time we get a new biopsy and see if the cancer is the same, or has changed in some ways. It will also match us with any treatments that may be left to try. I think its best to try to get a sample from your uterus."
"In the meantime, I think we'll try switching to a different chemo... maybe Ibrance, a hormone treatment. As he talks about my history, he is quiet and reflective. He is turning things over in his mind too. I can see how tricky this all is- it certainly matches how I feel. He finally asks if we've tried any in the 5FU line? I shake my head no. We haven't. As we talk about it, I realize a weight is slowly lifting from me. He is talking about treatment. His voice now has some conviction again and then suddenly, he brightens and says- well since you haven't had any from this family than there are two more drugs we can use with it as well. He shares that 5FU is an old breast cancer drug, now used more for colon cancer, but there may still be some benefit from it and I may keep my hair. He also mentions Methotrexate and Cytoxan that go along with it. He is proposing a 3 drug combo.
He goes on about a couple of other drugs and its then I jump in to ask him... "So are you saying theres more treatment options left for me to try?" We go through many of the ones I've done already, but off the top of his head he still finds another one. He cautiously says we just need to keep in mind my body isn't recovering very well, or rebounding very quickly from each session of chemo I do. The trick is to find a therapeutic level of a drug that I can tolerate, and yet still have it do some good. I find myself shaky all over again. This isn't going to be easy.
But then he switches gears again. What do I think about trying to find a study? There are so many mechanisms being studied and he rattles off the ones he is most impressed with. He is downright animated in talking about the proteins, and the types of cells, and the nuances of all the components. My head is swimming. A lot of the studies are on the East coast. They would require a move, and possible hospitalization. It'd be costly, in many ways. I'd have a lengthy process to go through just to see if I qualify. But the idea has merit? So many ideas with possibilities, but which ones are the ones we should embrace? For now we will test for the proteins and just start with that to see if I'd even qualify.
I'm so fraught with emotion by this time, I just need time to process all of this. So I tell him what is foremost on my mind for right now. The boys are starting their hockey season. Its a big part of our lives. I simply need to feel as though I can do ok, whether I am able to fully be with them or not, can I get by long enough to see them through their hockey season sometime this spring?
He pauses and mulls it over. He smiles, cautiously, then says, yes, I think we can try for that.
We get up to go, but I won't be having infusion for 3 more weeks. Instead of walking me out, this time, he goes right, and I go left. So much new, amidst so much old, and I can only wonder what it all means.
I have had many tests these past few days, preparing for the stent surgery sometime on Thursday. I will see an OB on Wednesday to talk about the biopsy process and make a plan. I will do my best to come back and fill you in, soon. In the meantime, will you pray for me? Out of all the change, the one thing that has always seen me through is your prayers. I'm honored. And humbled as always.
Love to you all~