Monday, March 26, 2012

Doctors, Tests, and What May Be A Plan

What a crazy four days it has been. From thinking I was doing a PET scan to get confirmation of no cancer, to being told I have cancer, to announcing it to the church and everybody else, to putting together a plan to move forward.

Phew, I am tired already and this is just the beginning.

Okay, here is where we are now. This morning Jen and I went to meet with the radiation oncologist. When I first got there the nurse clearly said that I wasn't supposed to be there (her way of saying that she was upset with the PET scan results as well.) I replied by letting her know that since my cancer is back that she needed to be nice to me, to which she responded by whacking me in the head with the file folder. I think that was a love tap :)

So we then met with the doctor, and again everyone is in shock that this has come back. The lungs are perfectly clean, there are not symptoms, no pain, no signs at all that I should have cancer with the exception of the PET scan. So we are luckily that we caught it when we did.

The good news is that in looking over all the scans, the doctor does not think that there is any bone erosion in my neck at this time. This is good because that one spot in particular is quite concerning to them. Since there is no erosion, that means that there will probably not need to be any surgery.

He then went over all the test results again, and said he would be referring with others in Madison who specialized in spine issues. But he thought that I would next be getting an x-ray then a CT and then probably radiation with my Plan B pill. He also thought I might need to get a biopsy to confirm the cancer. There were some changes to this just a few minutes ago, but overall we had a basic plan to move forward.

He also did not seem all that excited about rushing into things really fast. It was going to be a very deliberate process to make sure we were doing the right thing at the right time. That was reassuring as well.

We then went over to see the oncology nurses and do some tests there. Because this is in the bones I need to take some supplements to strengthen my bones. Right now it is calcium and D3, but I will also be getting a weekly shot to help with it as well. So they went over all my current meds and then had an EKG and a blood test. The EKG is because the Plan B pill can affect the heart, so I needed to have a baseline in place.

A little bit about my Plan B pill. It is called Xalkori and has only been on the market for a year or so. It was in trial stages when I was first diagnosed two years ago, and had a very high success rate even in trials. Now it is on the market and helping a lot of people. From what I understand it works at the molecular level and goes in and attacks the cancer directly. It is a very specified drug for a specific cancer. There is one person in Beloit currently taking it and having a lot of success.

I was told that the pill and the radiation would take place at the same time. For radiation I will probably have 25 sessions, that means five sessions a week for five weeks. The sessions do not last long, I just have to be there every day. The possibly side effects are like last time, possibly be tired out a little bit more, maybe a sore throat, and possible esophogus issues.

After the tests I ran into a person from church on Sunday, she grabbed me and gave me a huge hug, letting me know that she was there for us. This kind of support is a true blessing.

Then we came home and waited to hear more. This afternoon I got a call from the nurse with the radiation oncologist and new plan was put into place.

On Thursday, April 5 (Maundy Thursday) at 7:00 am I will be having an MRI.

Crap. I really thought I was going to get out of that tube test. It wasn't mentioned this morning at all, but here it is.  So I will be getting some wonderful meds and going into the tube that morning.

Then, after the tube I get to have a biopsy.

When I think biopsy I think big needle.

So right after the MRI they will be taking me upstairs and will be taking a biopsy on my hip area to confirm that this is cancer.

I will get the results of these tests a few days later, then if everything is what we expect, I will start radiation a day or two later.

The Plan B pill will be started sometime this week, probably. That all depends on the test results, being able to get the pill (which is a bit of a chore) and the confirmation from my oncologist to start taking it.

So within two weeks or so I will be on a full treatment schedule once again.

I never would have thought this was the case just four days ago.

As you might imagine, I have been going through a whirlwind of emotions during this time. I am grateful for the doctors and nurses who are so helpful and proactive. I am thankful for my wife who is walking this journey every step with me. I am thankful for my girls who help me to laugh when I need to. I am thankful for my friends and church members who are being supportive, praying for me, crying with me, and giving all of us the support that we need. And I am thankful for the God who is walking this walk with me as well.

Tomorrow I will be giving another update. It will probably include more reflections as well.

Thanks again for all your support and prayers.

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