Tag Archives: CT scans

Update

I had my CT scan and appointment with Dr. Shaw yesterday. As anticipated, the news is not particularly good. The radiology report reads: ‘A mixed attenuation lesion in the left lower lung zone now measures 8.4 cm, previously 6.9 cm. There are also increased small ground glass nodules adjacent to the lesion. The central solid portion of the lesion now measures 6.2 cm, previously 4.4 cm. A mixed attenuation lesion in the anterior right upper lobe now measures 1.4 cm, previously 1.4 cm. Another right upper lobe lesion now measures 7 mm, previously 4 mm. Inferior right upper lobe mixed attenuation nodule measures 1.5 cm, previously 1.2 cm—Interval increase in size of dominant mixed attenuation lesion in the left lower lung zone and some of the right upper lobe nodules consistent with worsening lung cancer.

Still, were I not symptomatic, Dr. Shaw would consider leaving me on Xalkori for a little longer. However, upon examination she noted how very wheezy I am and we both agreed that it is time to try something else.

Two weeks ago I realized (with no small degree of horror) that I had gotten mixed up on my medication and had been taking my Xalkori only once a day. At most I made this mistake for two or possibly three weeks but I was absolutely mortified when I reported my discovery to Alice (Dr. Shaw). Hopefully it had no major impact upon my response, as my symptoms had never abated. However, it is a potent reminder that I have been terribly distracted. As Alice remarked, I have a lot on my plate.

I am to start the new trial on the 13th of May. We have a scheduled mediation for our impending divorce on the 16th and my first impulse was to push back the trial date. Last night I did a lot of soul searching and realized that I need to get my priorities straight (the mediation can wait if necessary).

In addition to my own worries, Pete is experiencing some challenges (kid can’t get up in the morning) and I’ve been back and forth to Exeter a number of times. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I am setting my alarm for 7:20 every morning so that I can place a rise and shine call to my sleepy son. Yesterday I had to call repeatedly; today he picked up on the fourth ring.

I confess to feeling somewhat overwhelmed. However, my internal dialogue moves quickly from wallow to wonder; I am still here.

Live, love, life.

 

Downs and ups

I’m going to begin with another blanket apology. Not only have I been a poor communicator when it comes to blogging, I’ve also not been very consistent about returning personal emails, texts and phone messages. Somehow I lost my date book (in a snow drift somewhere, I betcha) and chances are excellent that if I’ve not done so already, I will miss some appointments.

This galls me because I don’t like being a no-show. In a world rife with promises and proposals, showing up is the only real currency, and I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind in my accounts.

There. Now I’ve at least acknowledged my shortcomings and offered an apology (perhaps preemptively in the case of upcoming appointments).

On the home front, I’ve been back in my apartment for a week and a half now. Servpro did a wonderful job and once again my landlords are to be commended for their quick attention to the mold situation. My eyes are no longer red each morning and my rash has disappeared as well. The only thing that has lingered is my cough, and that, unfortunately, is due to the progression of my cancer.

Yes, when progress is anything but. I saw Alice last week to review my latest scans. Compared to the previous CT scan (six weeks earlier) my cancer is picking up its pace. The largest area of tumor in my upper left lobe increased in size  from 4.0 cm x 1.9 cm to 4.2 cm x 2.5 cm. Noted on the radiology report (and quite obvious when viewing the earlier scan side by the side with the most recent one) is increased prominence of the ground glass opacity. And of course there are numerous little nodules in my right upper lobe as well.

The plan is to start back on Xalkori (crizotinib) asap. First, however, my insurance company has to approve the prescription. To that end I’ve received an automated phone call making certain I was me (social security number? mother’s maiden name?) but no other word and certainly no drug showing up in my mailbox. In the meantime, I’m continuing to enjoy grapefruit, which will soon be verboten.

How am I feeling? Overwhelmed. Sad and occasionally very frustrated. Tired and weaker; both of which I attribute to the progression of my cancer. Sore—I’ve screwed up my back something wicked. I was carrying my easel across the parking lot and slipped on some black ice and fell down hard. Unfortunately I think it was the last straw for my back. So, now I’m sporting a brace, sucking down advil and just hoping that time (and, finally, some respect!) will heal.

Of course, in addition to the trials and tribulations there is the wonder and not some small sense of pride at this fresh chapter. I’ve made fantastic new friends and gone to parties, potlucks and art openings galore. In a further sign of my commitment to the future (rsvp-ing, if you will), I have rented some additional studio space at the mill next door. It is where I shall paint but also set up shop—soon I hope to be offering for sale not only my photos and paintings, but a slew of vintage clothing.

Yes, in those months when I was getting chemo I was busy. Shopping. Hanging out at thrift stores and buying up a rather impressive array of clothes, shoes, hats, scarves, bags, ties and jewelry. In April the doors will open to The House of Redemption: Second Chance Clothing.

So you see, as I said to Alice, I’ve got plans. Big plans. And although cancer may mess with them a little, it’ll just be a temporary setback. All this stuff I’m hoping to do is a form of positive visualization; my rich fantasy life put to therapeutic use. And I am certain it can be realized. To wit: after my appointment with Alice last week I placed a phone call to a woman who was selling some inexpensive teak storage units on Craig’s List. I liked the sound of her voice and as I drove to her house I fantasized that she would be really great, we’d become fast friends, and she would invite me for dinner.

Well, when she opened her front door I was enveloped by the smell of curry. We began to chat about this and that. I agreed to purchase the shelving and went out to my car to get it ready for loading. When I came back inside, this very nice woman said that she had just spoken to her husband on the phone and if I waited twenty minutes, he would be able to assist me. And then she asked me if I would like to stay for dinner.

I laughed and told her that I was almost embarrassed as I had in fact imagined this particular scenario. I suppose some people might have been alarmed at this point, but as it turned out, we were two peas in a pod. Her husband came home, we (well, mostly he) loaded my purchases, and then the three of us sat down for a delicious meal. It was a magical experience and, I am certain, quite out of the ordinary for a Craig’s List transaction.

Moral of the story—go ahead and hope. You never know where your imagination may lead you.

YES!

This one’s a YES!

On Monday I went to Boston for my six week CT scan. My mom, Evalynn and stepfather, Jim were visiting from their home in Utah and they came along. After having my labs drawn, Dr. Shaw and Margeurite (all time favorite nurse) were kind enough to step into the waiting room for a brief introduction. It meant the world to my parents, and made the day a special one.

That evening Alice (Dr. Shaw) called after having viewed the CT scans along with two radiologists. The results were a bit astounding–there appeared to be no significant change. This news caught me  a bit off guard as I had been preparing myself for anything except stability. Now I had the option of staying on drug for six more weeks. It took a couple of seconds to adjust my mindset (cancer really teaches you to think on your feet) before deciding yes, this was the obvious choice. As we ended our conversation, Alice cautioned that she would receive confirmation once measurements were taken and the actual report was written.

Yesterday Alice called once again; my scans were really, truly, stable. So, here I am, on the edge, but holding. And I am fine, make that better than fine, with my current status. I’m on a journey, and this traveler plans to take her time. It’s going to be back roads, blue highways and the scenic route for me.