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!