After my fourth round of R-CHOP chemotherapy, it was time for a second PET scan to evaluate my progress with treatment.
You may remember the results from my first PET scan - after two rounds of chemo, the primary tumor in my chest had shrunk in size by nearly fifty percent, the tumor in the right upper lobe of my lung also shrunk dramatically and most of the small nodules in both of my lungs, although still present, were nearly gone.
On Tuesday, just four days before Rebecca and I were scheduled to travel to Michigan for a much needed vacation, we received an unfortunate call from my oncologist.
My second PET scan revealed that after two more rounds of chemo nothing has changed. There has been no spreading of disease, but the cancer is still present and no longer reacting to the chemo. It was expected that I would see just as dramatic results from two more rounds of chemo as I did the first two. Sadly, my body has stopped responding to this particular type of treatment and it’s back to the drawing board.
My oncologist has referred me to a new doctor with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona to reevaluate my entire case and schedule a new treatment plan.
The new plan will most likely be one of two new chemotherapy options. They are called ‘R-EPOCH’ and ‘RICE’ (Once again, these are just fancy acronyms which depict what type of medications are in the mix). We are not sure which type of chemo I will undergo at this time.
Both of these types of chemo present unfortunate traits. They present a higher probability of severe side effects, both short and long-term. Worst of all, these treatments are typically in-patient infusions. This means I would stay roughly three to five days in the hospital getting a twenty-four-hour, continuous dose of medication.
More to come on this and what the next course of action will be, there is a lot more to learn and important decisions to be made.
As of now, we will halt the R-CHOP chemo as it is basically pointless to put more poison into my body if it is not assisting with the cancer.
CHANGE OF PLANS
With our travel plans now shaken up, Rebecca and I are making the best out of a bad situation. We have been looking forward to this trip to Michigan for quite some time and purposely planned it during her summer vacation and between my chemo cycles. It was tough getting everything timed out perfectly for the both of us to be able to travel with one another.
Traveling between chemo treatments and with cancer in general can be tricky. My oncologist has expressed some concern. Not necessarily about the status of my health or me getting sick as I have been responding extremely well to the current treatment, he simply wants to start the new treatment plan as soon as possible with the Mayo Clinic. However, we have to wait for my insurance to be authorized, records to be transferred and availability with the new team of doctors to open up. We are now playing the waiting game.
This puts the decision to travel or not in my hands. The way I see it, if I am going to have to wait, I might as well do it while in the comfort of my home state.
Physically, I feel great - the best I have felt since the beginning of this entire cancer diagnosis. I was even planning on returning to work as soon as we returned from Michigan in the beginning of July. I think it’s safe to say that is no longer a reality with what the future holds at this point in time.
Mentally, I need this vacation to Michigan. I need to go to my home state and sit by a bonfire. I need to swim in Lake Michigan. I need to take a walk through the woods. I need to experience a thunderstorm. I need to drink a few beers and have a barbeque. And most importantly, I need to see my family and friends to let my mind take a break.
After more talking with my oncologist, we are going to continue with our vacation as planned and arrive to Michigan on June 10th.
Chances are I may have to leave early to get the process going with the Mayo Clinic, but thats okay. I will take what I can get, even if it’s only a week or a few days.
On that note, if I don’t see everyone I had planned to, I apologize in advance.
I am not entirely sure what the future holds at this point in time. Although I am currently frustrated, my overall attitude and determination to beat this cancer will remain unscathed.
So, do me a favor - save the sorry’s, pity and sadness over a little bit of bad news.
I’ve got this.
This will not change the final outcome and is simply another bump in the road to recovery. It will not slow me down. Period.
In the meantime, stay in touch, visit again and witness cancer through my lens and keyboard.
Until next time…