Yesterday I met with my oncologist. My body’s response thus far has been extremely strong. He took a look at me and said that even for people my age going through this specific protocol I’m looking stronger than most. So that’s great. We looked at the CT scan, at a cross-section of my abdomen, and saw the before and after images. Before: looked like I was pregnant with a large mass pushing all organs to the side (explaining clearly my back pain at that time). After: mass still present but significantly smaller – measured in mm’s vs. something over 13cm across a side at the start. I started with so much mass in my abdomen that getting rid of it fully would be very unlikely in his opinion, despite the excellent response.
So there’s a fork in the road coming up. Once this round is completed there are two dimensions to assess next steps: mass size and cell activity. These are measured by CT and Pet scan, respectively. Inactive mass is still ok. Think of it like scar tissue from the mass. And it’s small, I can’t feel the tumor with my hand anymore. But he has seen cases in which the mass actually increases in size toward the end of treatment (my jaw dropped when he said this). While we both consider that unlikely it is unnerving to consider just how complex these systems are – and how quickly we approach the brink of our understanding when peeling back the onion even just a layer or two. For all our knowledge, built brick by brick so to speak, in these conversations one can almost peer over the edge into the abyss of our collective ignorance.
Anyway, if there is still cellular activity post round 6 that means my current protocol isn’t getting the job done and we need to evaluate other options. I’m trying to get that Pet scan scheduled for December but these machines are notoriously hard to get appointments for. At the latest I should know early Jan about the status.
Regardless, today will be the last round of this protocol. Yes there’s a looming set of decision points up ahead. I left the office a bit unnerved as I fixated on outcomes. But that was short-lived as I reminded myself there’s no point thinking about it too much. I’ll focus on the happy path. And isn’t it always the case that we don’t know what’s around the corner? How boring if we did! It’s just that sometimes we are made aware of the complexity. So screw it. I’m ready to do round 6 and finish with this chapter. And I WILL celebrate. Never mind what’s around the corner.