2016 was blessedly boring. Boring meaning cancer had nothing to do with me and I had nothing to do with cancer other than a follow up CT Scan. Boring is good!
Unfortunately 2017 has started off with a bang. I had my 6 month follow up CT scan done on Dec. 27th and just saw Dr. Pishvaian.
I arrived about a half hour early so they could do the normal blood draw I get every time I see him. The Lombardi CCC was busier than normal but then again I’m used going in first thing in the morning and it was now close to 10:30am. I settled into the waiting room but before I could get into my book I was called into the vampires den. After a quick blood letting I hadn’t even gotten back to the waiting room before Fanny, Dr. Pishvaian’s assistant was calling my name. Wow, I thought. Here I’d been thinking I was going to be sitting around doing a long wait.
Getting with Fanny we went through the normal weight check, blood pressure, temperature and prescription updates. After she stepped out it wasn’t 5 minutes before a young gal walked in, introducing herself as a nurse studying under Dr. P. She performed a quick physical and as Fanny had, asked if I was experiencing any pain. My reply was a delighted, No. How about shortness of breath? Nope. We went through medications again and then she left saying she’d be back shortly with Dr. P.
Shortly wasn’t short enough. As I sat there waiting I had way too much time to think. It had been 15 months since the esophagectomy and in my “new normal” things had been sailing along quite smoothly but… As anyone who has had cancer knows we’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Given too much time to think I started wondering what the delay, especially given how quickly everything else had occurred this morning. Plus I kept hearing Dr. P. out in the hallway. When Dr. P. did finally walk in it wasn’t with his normal chipper grin.
I looked up at him from the exam table and asked, “So, smiley face or frowny face?”
He said, “It’s not good.”
Bah! Well I’d been sitting long enough to start playing glass half full, glass half empty in my head. Given my normally pessimistic bent I was already leaning towards the half full side so his comment didn’t evoke any huge response from me. I always wonder what other people do in this situation? I wondered if the young nurse thought it weird that I took the news so matter-of-factly?
The CT scan found 2 lesions (tumors) in my left lung. They are small, the larger only being 1cm in size. They also found an enlarged lymph node near my heart. That one was 3x2cm in size. Plan of action is to first get a biopsy. Even though they know it’s cancer they have to still make sure and also make sure it’s metastatic in that it originated from the EC. Then Dr. Pishvaian want’s me to start on a new immunotherapy treatment. This one is very similar to the one I was on before (being an Anti PD-1 immunotherapy) and actually has a name this time. It’s made by Merck and the designator is MK-3475 Pembrolizumab also known as Keytruda. In addition to the Keytruda I’m going to be given a pill that according to the consent form I signed “blocks an enzyme known as Janus protein tyrosine kinases (JAK)… which may help your body generate a stronger immune response to your cancer by helping it to better recognize and destroy cancer cells.” Well YeeHaw on that. Bring out the big guns! 🙂
So welcome 2017 and a new chapter in this incredible journey the Good Lord has me on.