Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mixed Feelings/Emotions

Most days I am happy, nervous, angry and hopeful.  Every emotion runs through me on a daily basis. The past week has not been an exception.  As a matter of fact, my emotions have intensified.

On Monday, October 19th, I had a CT Scan of my chest and abdomen.  This was the first scan since last April and the intention was to see how well the 30 radiation treatments and 4 months of chemotherapy has worked.  During this time, I also developed an "ache" in my upper arm - not an ongoing pain, but an ache whenever I moved my arm.

Well, Monday, October 26th, I visited my oncologist to get the results.  The news certainly could have been much better but was not a surprise.

My mid chest cancerous lymph nodes are stable.  That means they have not gotten any bigger.  The cancer is still there, just not growing.  The left side of my chest is filled with scar tissue as a result of having my lungs removed on that side.

Now, the right side.  There appears to be another spot, approx. 1 cm. in diameter, that he is quite sure is cancer.  He also suspects the pain in my arm may be metastases to the bone as well.

I have a PET Scan scheduled for Friday (that is the whole body scan) and a lung biopsy on Monday, November 1.  The plan at this point is to complete these tests and immediately after begin chemotherapy again.  This time they will use a somewhat new drug, Opdivo (you've probably seen the commercials on every TV channel lately).

In a clinical trial of 582 patients whose advanced non-squamous NSCLC had spread or grown after treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy, 292 were treated with OPDIVO, 290 were treated with chemotherapy (docetaxel). OPDIVO was shown to reduce the risk of dying by 27% compared to chemotherapy (docetaxel). Half of the patients on OPDIVO were still alive at 12.2 months, compared to 9.4 months with chemotherapy (docetaxel). Additionally, OPDIVO was shown to partially or completely shrink tumors in 19% of patients, compared to 12% with chemotherapy (docetaxel).

Now, the hard part.  I had heard of Opdivo.  The commercials are quite eye opening which led me to ask my doctor, "So we no longer going for a cure.  Is this treatment plan simply to extend my life as long as possible.?" And he answered, "yes."

I wasn't under any illusions of a cure from lung cancer, but when they removed everything 5/2014 I had some hope.  When it came back, I had hope my radiation during chemotherapy would get rid of what was there.

I now realize, this is my life.  I will be fighting this for the rest of my life.  Whatever length of time that is, I will continue to do what is needed to extend it as long as possible.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It's Been A While

It has been quite a while since I posted anything.  For the most part things have been quiet. It has been 4 weeks since my last Chemotherapy.  Next week I go for more CT Scans to see if the chemo is working.  Fingers crossed.

The only noteworthy thing in the past 4 weeks was Primary Doctor visit just to check in and make sure everything else is ok, and today, an eye exam.  Cancer treatments have a weird effect on the body.  This year my distance vision got better and my reading vision got worse. And my left eye changed more drastically than the right.  New bifocals coming my way.

Although it has been quiet these past few weeks, things are still a bit frustrating around here.  My Chemobrain is in full force.  I don't remember things from this morning half the time.  I can only laugh and move on to the next thing.

The worst part of the past few weeks is my hair loss.  Last year my chemo caused my hair to thin out so much that I volunteered to buzz it.  This year it is falling out in clumps.

The above picture was my daughter Maria's attempt to hide "my baldness."  Yes, I walked around with this love painting on my head for a few days, but in reality it really looks like this...

No hair. At all.

But one thing this disease has taught me is don't fret the small stuff and with a lung cancer battle, no hair is the least of my worries.  I'm not a wig person, so bandana's have been a lifesaver.