Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quiet miracles

I think that sometimes we get caught up in the enormity and seeming endlessness of cancer and we let it overwhelm us. We feel hopeless and helpless and any small change that happens, be it a physical change or a change in treatment, causes stress and maybe even despair. And that is probably normal (not positive, I'm still a bit new to the world of cancer) but I think that sometimes those emotions can prevent us from seeing positive changes in the cancer journey as the huge and amazing things that they are.

I returned to Mayo last week for a check-up and my liver looks good. Well actually, it looks like it is full of holes, but not full of tumors right now, YEA! My liver function tests all look really good too. My lungs, however, have my doctor a bit concerned. The tumors in my lungs are not growing any faster than they were last time I was there, but there are growing. They are still small though and not causing any breathing problems. The chemo that I have been on has not stopped the growth of the tumors, which we already knew, it does seem to be slowing the growth but without stopping the chemo and waiting to see how fast things grow we won't know. I've been on the same chemo for over a year now and the continued growth of the lung tumors has made my doctor suggest other treatments. There are still things that we can try but from here forward the treatments become more taxing to me. What my doctor would like to try next is a different chemotherapy. This chemo would be given through an IV and would be once a week for two weeks and then off for one week, then repeat! So, I will be starting that treatment up here at Mayo this Friday, the 16th, returning for a second treatment on the 23rd, and then meeting with my oncologist before continuing with it in November. If I tolerate the chemo alright then I will start receiving it closer to home and not have to travel up here weekly. There is also some talk of putting a port in but that will likely wait until next month.

So yes, a new chemo and the possibility of a port (which might actually be a good thing) but did you miss it? The good news, I mean. The huge change in my condition that even I, at first, just glossed over when telling people how my trip to Mayo went? My liver has NO tumors in it right now! None! That is HUGE! It has been nearly 3 years since I was able to say that. And so I stopped there to add up the number of tumors that I had 3 years ago, I believe it was 10 or more in my liver at that time. And then I mentally added up all the different procedures that I have been through to try to get rid of those tumors. And you know what? Somehow, the math doesn't add up. There used to be tumors in my liver that were just sitting there, not growing, not shrinking, just sort of hanging out. And we never really treated those. So what happened to them? I looked at the scans with my doctor and I agree, there are no tumors in my liver, and maybe we treated and removed them all, but I don't remember that. But the are gone! And, my friends, that is a huge thing! To be honest, headed up to Mayo this time I was so nervous that they were going to find lots wrong with my liver, I have never been so happy to be wrong! Now, I don't know how long my liver is going to stay tumor free, but it is tumor free now and, to me, that is enough. More than enough.

So yes, I have to start a new chemotherapy. And yes, it is probably going to be rather unpleasant. But even on the rainiest day, when cancer threatens to overwhelm us, there are these huge things, these changes that often slip by unnoticed. Some may choose to call them an improvement, I call them miracles! And I am so thankful for them!