Sunday, September 24, 2017

Update and What's Happening

Wow, I just realized it has been quite a while since my last update.  Part of that is because it was a rough few months, but also, part of it is due to me writing for LungCancer.net.  My apologies to those of you who follow my progress via my blog.

Let's start with my Lung Cancer.  I still have scans every 3 months and thus far my Opdivo is working fantastic.  Each scan shows either NO growth or slight shrinkage of my tumors.  This is great news.

Now the not so great news.  As I posted a while back, they discovered that I have Bladder Cancer as well.  It is NOT metastatic.  It is a separate cancer.  In July, I had Bladder Surgery and the tumor was removed.  The plan was for me to get six immunotherapy treatments which would be placed in my bladder via a catheter.  I then I had keep it in there for 2 hours.

Well, as you know, my Opdivo is an immunotherapy.  When my Oncologist found out, she freaked.  She immediately called the Urologist to discuss what was going on.  The final decision was that I was to stop the Bladder Cancer therapy because as we know there have been years upon years of studies on immunotherapies BUT NONE for people who are having 2 different immunotherapies at the same time.

Okay, so now what?  Apparently there is a different chemotherapy/immunotherapy drug called Mytomycin that they decided would be a better choice.  I began these treatments in August.  The first two or three weren't too bad.  A bit of pain for a day or two and trouble urinating.

Then the bottom fell out.  On my fourth treatment, I was in extreme pain in my bladder.  It was spasming.  I felt a constant urge to pee!!  And I mean constant.  Then I broke out in hives from my neck to my toes. Between the pain and itching, I didn't know where to begin.  This lasted 9 days.  Of course, I called the Urologist and just my luck he was on vacation.  The nurse did reach him and he said that I should stop my treatments immediately (just the bladder) and we would wait until my next scans in October to discuss what to do.

The probability of Bladder Cancer tumors coming back is high - even with treatment after removal.  So I'm not sure where this leads me.  Since these two drugs are the only options for me right now, we have to wait and see.  At least both doctors are in agreement that my Lung Cancer is the priority.  

I will update again soon, I promise.  As soon as I know what is going on. In the meantime, I will just continue my Opdivo every two weeks.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bladder Surgery

If you follow my blog, you know that last month I was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer, in addition to my Lung Cancer.

In 2 days, May 11th, I will have surgery to remove the tumor and I will be Staged at that point.  After testing, staging and surgery, I will know the exact treatment going forward.

Even though it is distressing to have two cancers at the same time, it is comforting to know that Bladder Cancer can be easily managed (In comparison to what I'm used to with Lung Cancer).  And, I can do both treatments at the same time.

I may be a bit spacey afterwards, so I may not update for a few days, but will post as soon as I know anything more.

I thank you and ask for your continued prayers

Thursday, April 13, 2017

LUCKY ME - 2 DIFFERENT CANCERS

Having over a dozen people in my family diagnosed with cancer, I've always approached "growing up" with - not if I will get cancer but when??

As you all know, it has been 3 years and 3 months since my Lung Cancer diagnosis and everything that journey has entailed.  Well, yesterday I had a Cystoscopy to check a mass in my bladder.

It is approx. 1.5 cm in size and it is Bladder Cancer.  It is not from my primary tumors in my lungs but a totally separate tumor.  According to the Urologist, I will have surgery to remove the tumor.  It is called TURBT procedure. TURBT is a procedure in which bladder tumors can be removed from the bladder wall. This is a procedure performed completely with a scope that is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. It is generally performed in the hospital setting as an outpatient with the patient anesthetized.

6 weeks after the surgery I will begin chemotherapy.  BCG, Bacillus Calmette-GuĂ©rin, is the treatment.  Bladder cancer is the only cancer in which BCG is commonly used. Other agents have been used in bladder cancer, but none has surpassed the effectiveness of BCG.  In my case the BCG will administered in an induction (once weekly for 6 weeks), wait one month, then maintenance (once weekly for 3 weeks) course. Another 6-week course may be administered if a repeat cystoscopy reveals tumor persistence or recurrence. Induction therapy combined with maintenance therapy every 3-6 months for 1-3 years may provide more lasting results. Periodic bladder biopsies are usually necessary to assess response.

I will have BCG and Opdivo concurrently (at the same time).

So there you have it.  I am officially a Lung Cancer Survivor and I intend to be a Bladder Cancer Survivor.

I am currently awaiting on the hospital to call me to schedule the procedure.  I will update as soon as I know more.  

I continue to thank you for all your love, support and prayers.

Friday, April 7, 2017

YES, I'VE BEEN AVOIDING YOU

I have a confession.  For the past 48 hours, I have been avoiding all of you.  Text messages, emails and Facebook posts.  You all saw I was getting my scan results yesterday and then I was back at the hospital today.

Truth is my scan results were not that great.  First, my lung scans were GREAT!!  Slight shrinkage since 3 months ago, so we know Opdivo is still doing it's job and kicking cancer's ass.

Now, the not so good news.  The CT scans showed a mass in my bladder.  My oncologist stated she highly doubts it is spread from my lung because that is very rare.  However, there is the possibility it is a 2nd cancer - just my luck.  

She wanted me to see a Urologist ASAP but unfortunately they were booked until May 24th.  She stressed I should call periodically and see if they have cancellations.  Lucky for me, I called today and they had an opening.

The Urologist and I went over my scans.  He stated we have to do a cystoscopy so he can look at it and get a biopsy.  We have scheduled that for next Wednesday.  He will be able to tell me at that time if it indeed is a 2nd cancer.  He was very compassionate, concerned and explained things in detail.  He told me he cannot make an educated guess without a biopsy but the way it looks makes him pessimistic of the final diagnosis. The fact that I've never had a bladder infection or kidney infection is another bad sign.  My kidneys and bladder work great.

As cancer patients, we all know, no one ever rushes anything.  We wait and we wait.  What alarms me this time is his push to his staff that this needs to be done "tomorrow."  That is exactly what he told his staff while I was there.

I will keep you all informed going forward  I apologize for not answering your questions but I needed time to tell all 7 of my children - that took an entire day :)

I love you all for all the support your provide.  The past two days have proven I have many people behind me giving me the strength to continue the big fight.  During my mother's cancer fight in the early 80's, she always said, "God only gives you what you can handle."  All I can say mommie is - enough already!

Say an extra prayer for me.