A “Mixed” Report

I didn’t get the news I was hoping for from my CAT scan last week. It’s not all bad news…but certainly not all good news either. A “mixed response” is the term the radiologist used.

The tumor in my pancreas shrunk slightly and is now 1 centimeter x 1 centimeter, which is about the size of a fingernail. In my liver, a 2 x 2 cm tumor is gone and two other tumors shrunk slightly and are now in the 1 x 1 cm (fingernail) range.

On the bad news side, one tumor in my liver grew from 1 x 1 cm to 3 x 3 cm and two new tumors have appeared that are both in the 1 x 1 cm range. My latest blood tumor marker number also went up to 46 (below 40 is normal), which is another indicator that there is still tumor activity in my body.

Compared to my first scan back in April, the size of my tumors are significantly smaller…but the big c is fighting back in my body…so we’re going to keep fighting as well and try to zap the suckers with a stronger chemotherapy regime.

In my first six chemotherapy treatments, we used a “platinum” drug that has a history of being very effective against my type of tumors. The only trouble with this drug is that it has potential for permanent side effects…specifically neuropathy (numbness) in your feet and hands…and because of its toxicity, there is a limited amount that you can take.

Dr. Ocean is going to put the platinum chemo back in my therapy for the next six treatments with the hope that this can reverse the current activity.

I also met last week with Dr. Eileen O’Reilly at Sloan Kettering, the best cancer research hospital in New York City. Dr. O’Reilly is one of the world’s top oncologist’s and she has done a lot of work in the field of the Brca2 gene, which is the type of mutation that I have. Dr. O’Reilly will be consulting with Dr. Ocean on my case and hopefully in the near future I will be a candidate for one of the Parp Inhibitor drugs that Dr. O’Reilly has helped develop and shown to be effective in pancreatic patients that are in remission.

The side effects from chemotherapy have been making me quite sick the last three months, so I was really hoping for a scan report that would allow me to get off chemo. But I’m still optimistic about the future and thankful that the drugs have worked so well thus far.

As I told Zach last week, if you would have told me back in April that I would have eight good months and then things would go down hill, I would have taken that. Well…I’ve had eight good months…and am looking forward to a great 2015!

Medical/Personal Update:
Maria and I will be in Kansas and Nebraska visiting family this week…and then I’m headed to Colorado for a couple of days of snow skiing with a college buddy, Tom Beam.

When I was first diagnosed, I wondered if I would ever ski again and I also really hoped that I would at least make it to Christmas. Maria, Zach, and I had a wonderful Christmas together…and I’m excited for our upcoming trip to see family and also to experience the thrill and beauty of strapping two boards to my feet and flying down the mountain!

I am blessed!

My best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy New Year.

Next Stop: Facing Your Fears