Curveball


REPETITION

It has been a while since I have updated my blog. I have been purposely waiting to post any new information until I had all the facts concerning my treatment plan in front of me. This is the latest and greatest from the wild world of cancer…

From July 17th to July 20th I underwent my second round of RICE chemotherapy at the Mayo Clinic. It was another unpleasant, three day straight, continuous infusion of chemotherapy. This time was a much worse experience in terms of my symptoms. I was extremely nauseous and fatigued nearly the entire time of the treatment and an additional week after I got home. It was awful.

It’s hard to explain the symptoms. The best way I can explain it to someone who has not endured chemotherapy is that it’s a bit like having the flu, but worse. My gag reflex is on a hair trigger. Certain smells, tastes and activities can make the nausea increase dramatically. It sucks and I wouldn’t wish the feeling on my worst enemy.

Regardless, I got over the side effects and carried on with my usual activities. My next step in the treatment plan was a PET scan which I had performed on July 31st.

RESULTS

As mentioned before, this PET scan was a pivotal moment in determining the next course of action in my cancer treatment.

The scan determined if the RICE chemotherapy was in-fact doing it’s job in putting my cancer into a state of remission. I could then go forward with an autologous stem cell transplant to essentially cure my body of this horrendous disease.

Unfortunately, the RICE failed.

The PET scan revealed that not only the RICE has failed in terms of getting the cancer under control, but that it was becoming more active than when we began the treatment.

The main mass in my chest has increased activity along with the tumor in my right lung. These little bastards are persistent and won’t react to anything we throw at it.  

Essentially, I wasted weeks of my time, spent six days in the hospital for nothing and now have to go back to the drawing board for a new line of treatment. Frustrating is an understatement.  

At this point in time, we are going to cancel the stem cell transplant as it is essentially pointless if the cancer is still active.

My doctor believes that more chemotherapy is pointless and I agree. Clearly, my body is resistant to the treatment and the long term side effects are not worth trying more.

THE NEXT STEPS

I have to undergo another lung biopsy next week for some more testing of the cancer and its characteristics. This will help my team of doctors develop a new treatment plan.

Right now, we are aiming at having me undergo a relatively new type of treatment called CAR-T immunotherapy. Essentially, the process is almost identical to a stem cell transplant. However, this treatment uses genetically modified white blood cells from my body to find and fight cancer cells.

Until recently, this type of treatment was only available for cancer patients in clinical trials. In the last year, CAR-T received FDA approval in a select few facilities across the country which brings me to the next challenge - finding a hospital which accepts my insurance to have the procedure take place without having to uproot our entire life here in Arizona. Regardless, this is something I have to do. Aside from CAR-T, there are not many other options left to treat this type of cancer.

MOVING FORWARD

Right now, nothing is 100% certain when it comes to the plan ahead. We have to wait for the biopsy results and meet with the doctor to lay out something more concrete. More of the same waiting game.

One thing is for sure, this curveball hasn’t changed me. My one and only goal is to continue to fight and beat this cancer. No questions. No doubts. It will happen. Period.

In the meantime, stay in touch, visit again and witness cancer through my lens and keyboard.

Until next time…

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