August 30, 2011

Hi, Friends. It’s time for an update. Past time, actually. So here goes.

I had a 3 month check up two weeks ago. The one where the take LOTS of blood, and check all kinds of things, including tumor markers. I went in for my visit with Dr. Smith and he had said things were looking good and my condition was stable. I feel about the same–taking more pain pills, but thata’s to be expected with bone only disease. A little more tired, but, who isn’t? Overall, considering everything, feeling OK. Let’s do our next visit in three months. That was Monday, and I was due for my shots on Friday. By Wednesday I had 3 messages from Dr. Smith, one on each phone. The markers had gone up significantly and he was ordering a pet scan. The reason for the multiple messages was to stop me so I wouldn’t go in for shots–no need at that point. He wanted the scan so he could “see what was going on.”

Well, truth be told, it was unnerving. Not so much that the markers were up. They have been floating upward ever since the return of the cancer. It’s a normal course of the disease. The concern was the tone of his voice. I haven’t heard him sound so concerned or serious in a good while. That, coupled with some other events of the previous week, made for a rather tense weekend for Mike and Anne. The scan was scheduled for Tuesday morning. Monday after work I got the message that the insurance company had not authorized the test yet, and that I could always sign a waiver that I’d be responsible for payment. Well, some of you may remember–we went down that road with the first PET Scan. I figured I’d just get up, go to work, and then go straight to Dr. Smith’s office and we’d figure out plan from there. Which I did. Well, sort of. I got up and went to work–a regular interview with one of the radio stations for work. I got word about 8:40, after doing the radio interview, that the test was authorized, get to the hospital pronto. I did, they started the IV, and then said: have you eaten? Well, duh. I didn’t think there was going to be a test, so, yep. 6:30 that morning I had a protein shake. Which contains sugar. which would make the scan worthless. IV pulled out; Anne sent home to sleep off the pre-med that I take before crawling into the warm and fuzzy (note the sarcasm) little tube called a PET Scan (yes, that would be a valium–I do NOT like that machine). Made it to work for a couple of hours, but since I was not functioning well mentally, I went on back home. 7:30 Wednesday morning we started all over again. Mike dropped me off (I got fussed at for driving after taking meds) and we did the test. Again, home to sleep it off. This time it took a good while longer, since I’d had it two days in a row. Guess I’d make a lousy drinker–I get knocked sideways by the pills pretty easily. Anyhow, they assured us they’d have the test results by Friday’s appointment. In fact, the tech said she would put a rush order on it. Which she did.

Friday I went to the Chamber Coffee Hour and heard Coach Herman Boone, of Remember the Titans fame, and then to work. Met Mike at home and off to the clinic we went. Both of us trying to make light of the day. Yeah, right. I got checked in (BP was great–my pulse, however was like 120. Can you say exciteable?) Dr. Smith opened the door, saw Mike there, and didn’t even cross the threshhold before saying “It’s good news.” Smart man! REALLY smart man.

OK, after all this lead in, here’s the final word: yes, the markers have risen. Fairly dramatically. Hence his concern. It was the biggest jump in the three years since the return. The PET Scan showed that it is continuing to spread on the bone. But we had discovered that last year with the PET Bone Scan. While he did not go into total detail of everywhere it exists, he did say it’s throughout the bones. It does concentrate mainly in the trunk area, and I know it’s in my shoulder and skull. He told me that to help explain arm pain and headaches. The rest he said I should just take it easy and be careful. But don’t worry about every spot. It does no good. Again–smart, smart man. BUT, it is not in the organs. A very, very good thing. We discussed treatment options, the number of hormone therapy protocols there still are to try, and made a joint decision. There are 3 more therapies, before resorting to chemo. Two are aromatase inhibitors–cousins to the Aromasin I took several years ago. The third is something totally different. We are going with one of the aromatase inhibitors for the time being. Why, you might ask, are we going there? Guess what? Drug #3 is actually used to help cancer patients increase their appetites and gain weight. You know, the ones that need that. Everybody, stop laughing. It is not that funny! I’m still trying to get rid of the 15 pounds I’ve put on since I first started chemo. Though I lost 12 pounds last year, gained from the initial Faslodex therapy, I still have 10 from that and 5 from just plain liking food! So we’re going to try this first. See, I still have a sense of humor. All three of us got a good laugh over that one. When he said weight gain I just about lost it, laughing out loud. Besides, after picking up the prescription, the only thing we have to worry about is that the first side effect (listed in bold print) is anxiety. HA! Look out world. This could be interesting for everyone. (Especially Mike–everyone take pity.)

OK, I’ve given you the facts. Now, the feelings. It took me a long time to make this entry. It was hard to put into words all the feelings we went through last week. Like I said, it had been a particularly rough week anyway. A friend just lost her husband to cancer two weeks ago, and there are lots of emotions and complicated feelings there. Couple that with some other things going on personally, it had set us up for being extremely emotional anyway. We made the decision not to say anything to many folks (or at least I did), until we knew what was happening. I think it was probably the right decision. It gave me time to prepare myself for dealing with answers. It also gave me time to get back to the feeling of peace with my feelings, my situation, and my faith. You see, it’s easy to have that faith when things are going along all right. But once you get that phone call that rattles you, it takes a while to come back to a feeling of peace. I know I’m in God’s arms; I know there is a plan. I also know I have the love and support of friends and family. I just have to adapt. We all do.

That’s about it for now. I’m sure you’re all thinking it’s enough for sure. I’ve rattled on with this blog. The final word on treatment: no more shots in the hiney (yip, yip, yea), still taking Xgeva injections to strengthen bones, calcium to keep going, and vitamins to pep me up. Just a pill a day. AND, I go back to him in three months for another blood test. Because in the end, I’m still in stable condition. After going into the treatment room for my Xgeva injection, i appreciate that more and more. I am so blessed to still be doing so well. Friends, I have been blessed with this matastasis that after 3 years I am still doing this well. I know how fortunate I am to have had all this time and to still be doing this well. And I need to make the most of every minute. Love and blessings to you all.

Anne and Mike