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.