Liminal States

March 22, 2007

Whoops, spoke to soon with the sigh of relief there, O Best Beloveds. When we last left the cancer hoohah situation, Dr. W. was certain that my newly drawn markers would reveal a fall from their troubling upsurge, since, after all, the PET scan was oh-so-clear. In the 30’s, was his guess. But no. From 42 it went to 80. The hell?

Huh, said Dr. W. Because that’s what you like to hear from the internationally famous cancer doc. After some brooding, he thinks now that I’ve got something “microscopic, sub-clinical” (I swear he even said “occult,” which is kind of thrilling), waaaaaaaaaay too small and early to get picked up by the PET scan. This is atypical for me, because the last time I had an upsurge in my markers, I presented with a small liver tumor at 75. I usually have really responsive tumor markers, which is a very good thing, since it gets us on whatever is going on early, which is key to keeping this whole shebang going. It is possible that I’ve got markers that are going up for no reason–this happens to about one patient a year, he says–but he’s operating under the assumption that an actual something is there. I’m still technically considered in remission, and he refuses to treat me in any real way (read; chemo) unless/until something manifests on a scan. (Takes a tumor about a millimeter in size.) But not wanting to take chances, he’s put me on Aromasin, a daily pill related to Femara, the aromatase inhibitor that kept me in remission the last time for so long. He’s also–hey, why not?–trying something new by also keeping me on the monthly Fasolex shots, hoping that combo will be even more effective. No side effects (maybe some joint pain, like I had with Femara, whatever), so it’s no big deal.

Meanwhile, he had my blood drawn yet again, sent to two labs, and it’s up even more, just a week and a half later. New lab says we are at 120; regular lab results aren’t back yet, but will probably correspond. All this does is confirm, it doesn’t change the current plan. Which is; at least two months on this new pill combo, because “it’s like trying to stop down a speeding train; it takes a bit just to slow it down.” In theory–we like this theory, but that’s still all it is–the two meds should shrink/destroy the itty wee bummer of a bad bunch o’ cells, and that’s that and so forth, and so on. If the markers don’t go down, he will have me back in the PET scan, to see if anything’s showing up. If nothing is there, then we really shrug and figure I’m one of those oddball patients, I mean, more than I am already and naturally. If something there’s, I get biopsied that time–yippee–to make sure the cancer hasn’t changed (as apparently, it can) from estrogen positive to something else. (Cancer is fickle.Who knew?) Treatment then designed accordingly.

So. More nail biting, white knuckles and the like. Because you know what I’m good with? That’s right! Indecision and uncertainty! That’s me! “You are a Whiteheadian,” said my professor, who really is, about something else. “You like decision.” Yes, that I do. Not what I’m getting right now, though.

I hear on the news today that on-going cancer treatment is all the rage, so at least I’m trendy,