After six bi-weekly chemotherapy treatments, I had a CAT scan last Friday so the doctors could see what the tumors were doing inside my pancreas and liver. This afternoon, I received the results of the scan.
Getting these scans is a regular part of the big c treatment. While undergoing chemotherapy, scans are typically done every three months. If the disease goes into remission, scans are done every six months and then are continued once a year for a number of years until the patient is finally given the “all clear.”
These scans are usually very stressful on the patient because bad news…sometimes very bad news…is always an option. You often hear of patients having trouble sleeping or even suffering from severe anxiety as CAT scans draw near as well as having to wait between the test and the result.
In all honesty, I have had a peace about my scan, mainly because I have been feeling so good and my tumor marker blood numbers have been dropping significantly. I’ve also always tried to hold to the philosophy of not worrying about things that are beyond your control.
But I have to admit, this afternoon I developed a nervous stomach ache as I waited for the call from my oncologist, Dr. Allyson Ocean.
When the call came, Dr. Ocean said, “I definitely have good news for you, Jeff. Your liver is getting better and your pancreas has gotten a lot better which almost never happens.”
The size of the tumor in my pancreas shrunk by more than 50% from 4.7 x 4.4 centimeters to 1.7 x 1.5 cm. The tumor spots in my liver shrunk by about 25% with the largest two going from 6.6 to 5 cm and 6 to 4 cm.
Over the past three months, I have also been having blood drawn to get a “tumor marker” reading. Those test results also indicate that very positive things are happening.
Jeff’s tumor marker numbers:
March 31st 564
April 16th 1,382 (the start of chemotherapy)
May 1st 1,772 (the big c was on the move in my body)
May 15th 1,195
May 29th 913
June 12th 504
June 26th 274 (an 80% decrease in just 8 weeks!)
Dr. Ocean, who has always been upfront and honest, told me this afternoon, “I’m not saying you’re going to still be here in 20 years but more than one year? Yes for sure! Only 20% of pancreatic patients live more than one year after diagnosis but I guarantee you’ll be in that 20% group.”
So where do we go from here? I will undergo six more bi-weekly chemo treatments and then will have another CAT scan in late September. The therapy is working so we’re sticking to it!
Right now, I’m just very thankful. First, for the new chemo drugs that are giving pancreatic patients hope where there used to be none. Secondly, I thank all of you “riders” who have been faithfully praying for me. I know God is listening and answering those prayers. And finally, I am thankful to Him for His faithfulness and loving kindness towards me and my family. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!