Great News – April 2, 2020

Hi!

I should have posted this yesterday, or at least earlier today. But I’ve been distracted, working on a new tutorial about the Line Tool in Photoshop.

As some of you know, I’ve been battling cancer for the last year. Yesterday, I had a CT scan, blood work, and a video visit with the physician assistant who works with my oncologist.

It’s all good news!

The remaining, very tiny, nodule in my lung is stable. It’s probable that it’s scar tissue, not cancer. My blood work looks great. I have a tiny little bit of anemia left, but that’s all. I’m no longer immunocompromised, and I don’t need any treatment. I’ll have another CT Scan on July 1, because we need to keep an eye on it, but so far, so good!

Which is why I’m working on other things.

It’s taken me longer than I thought to get over the chemo. My hair is starting to grow back, but I still have “chemo-brain.” I forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it, it’s a bit hard to focus my eyes, and I don’t have a lot of stamina. But I’m getting better every day. At least, that’s what I tell myself. (And Michael agrees.)

For those of you who want to know when I can sign cards and things, ummm… not quite yet. I’m still a bit shaky, and autographs (unlike the stuff I’m doing on the computer) don’t have an “undo” function. I don’t want to mess up your cards or books. Thanks for your patience. I hope to be able to do all the things I used to do in another month or so.

Until then, I’m working on things for Second Life, working on tutorials, and yes, Michael and I are being very careful. I’ve only left the house for the tests and Michael is wiping down everything that comes from the grocery store with antiseptic wipes. 

Take care of yourselves, and thanks again for all your kind wishes, love and support.

I love you all!

Cancer Log 20.1.10

More really great news!

On Monday, I had another CT Scan. Yesterday, I had some blood work, and went to my oncologist again.

 I’m still anemic, but the rest of the blood work is pretty much back in the normal range. My immune system and platelets are back on line. Yay!

The nodules have gotten even smaller. (The raw numbers are about the same size as I reported last time, because, as the doctor explained to us, different radiologists estimate the size of things this tiny differently. So they compare the two scans, and note the size (as they see it) for the one in November, and the size of the one this week. The nodules are about half the size they were.)

They are now too tiny for surgery. The surgeon wouldn’t be able to find them. They are so small, my oncologist said, that it’s possible there are no cancer cells left, and what we are seeing is just scar tissue. 

All three are in the upper lobe of my left lung. The one that the original PET scan found in my right lung seems to have vanished, according to the doctor.

So, he told us, we now have two choices. I could have another two sessions of chemo, or I can have a break for a couple of months, and then another CT Scan to see if anything has changed.

I asked which he recommended, and he said the break. Which means that I can recover completely from chemo before anything else has to be done. If anything else has to be done at all.

So that’s what I’m doing! We go back on April 1 (which is the perfect day for it) and if all is well, which I think is what he’s expecting, then we just go back every three months for another CT scan for the rest of my life. In the meantime, I have a five o’clock shadow on my scalp, and my eyebrows are itching, because the hair is growing back in.

As my oncologist left the room, he said, “Congratulations!”

So, with any luck, that’s it for the Cancer Log, at least for a while. We now return you to the regularly scheduled blog, about Second Life and the occasional short story, if anyone is interested in short stories!

Cancer Log – 19.10.4

Yesterday I had an appointment with the new doctor at the University of Michigan.

Unlike other doctors, both he and his assistant (an internist who is planning to become an oncologist) examined me throughly. The bronchitis (or whatever it was) segued into a cold which isn’t quite over, so I was wearing a mask and coughing some. Neither one seemed to think it anything out of the ordinary.

The upshot is; I had a CT scan May 6. Chemo started July 15. The CT scan on September 12 showed a slight increase in two nodules, but because there was no CT scan taken in July there is no way to know when that growth occurred. Or how much growth there was that might have been reduced, for that matter. So it’s impossible to say with any certainty that the chemo isn’t working.

So the U of M doctor (hereinafter known as my oncologist) is going to try the chemo again. It starts next week, and we’ll do two sessions and another CT scan to see what has happened. If it’s working, then we’ll do another session, or perhaps two, and then give me a break, followed by as many sessions (and breaks) as needed.

If it’s not, he knows exactly what drug cocktail he’s going to use next. He even told us the names of the drugs, but I don’t remember what they are. (I’m blaming it on having a head full of mucus.)

He’s also going to consult with a thoracic surgeon to see about the feasibility of surgery to remove them. A lot will depend on how many of the tiny little nodules in my lungs are actually cancer.

It turns out I have dozens of them. I thought all the rest were scar tissue (my poor lungs have been through a lot, starting in my infancy,) since only a couple were bright on the PET scan, but that might not be the case.

My oncologist explained that PET scans work by bonding a radioactive tracer to glucose, and injecting it into your bloodstream. Then they see how much of that glucose various cells have taken up. Things that always take up a lot of glucose, like your liver and brain, are always bright. Lungs aren’t so much, because they don’t use as much glucose. Cancer, of course, does. But tumors that are too small to use enough glucose also don’t show up on a PET scan. So, we know for sure that one of the nodules is cancer, because it was biopsied. We’re assuming the other bright spot is also cancer. But there’s no way to tell for sure about all the spots that didn’t glow. They might be scars, or they might not.

We’ll have to keep an eye on them to see.

But, for now, I’m going back to an infusion center, as an outpatient this time (yay!) Three consecutive days, six to eight hours a day, depending on how well I do with it. I’ll be wearing a doxorubicin pump home, and the Neulasta shot will be one of those packs on my arm (as seen on TV) or a shot I can give myself. So I’ll be sleeping in my own bed, eating my own food, and I won’t have to go all the way back to Ann Arbor for the shot the next day. And there was much rejoicing.

They have to squeeze me in, so we don’t know what days I’ll be going yet. They will be calling (eventually) to tell me.

I’m so glad that I’m now seeing an oncologist who knows what he’s doing. Michael called the other one, and told her I’ve switched doctors, so she won’t wonder what happened, or keep trying to make appointments for me.

And that’s where we stand now. I’ll try to answer questions if any of you have them.

Love you all!