Today was treatment number 15. I saw Christina Urso this morning who very happily pointed out that she beat me in for a change. Such is the relationship with my nurse practitioner. After a quick once over she mentioned that Dr. Pishvaian still hadn’t had a chance to review my CT Scan’s but promised that he’d have them reviewed before noon. I went back up stairs for my treatment which was strictly routine, other than my mediport deciding not to cooperate again, but that’s becoming more and more part of the routine. At 1:25 I still hadn’t heard anything from Dr. P. so I shot both he and Christina an email letting them know I was going to be done with my treatment at 2:00 and that could come down to their office. 20 minutes later my nurse for the day, Kim came up and said Dr. P. had called and said he was reviewing the scans and would be up to see me shortly so hang around a bit.
To remind you what this was all about, Dr. P. had collected all of the CT Scans I’ve had done since last July and was going to review all of them in progression with a radiologist so he could see for himself how my cancer is reacting to the treatments. The last summary from the radiologist had sounded very promising but Dr. P. was reluctant to take that as fact and wanted to confirm it himself. Now I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m cautiously pessimistic because I’m always waiting for the “other shoe” to fall. Well today the “other shoe” not only didn’t fall, but they couldn’t find it at all. The cancer in my liver and what had been seen in two nodes had shown a continuous decrease since August and could not be seen at all in the scan from last month. I asked about the cancer in my esophagus and got the clear impression that since I wasn’t having any problem swallowing the real concern had been with the liver and lymph nodes. He said that at the end of the treatment, which will be Oct., he’ll request another endoscopy to be performed to check the tumor in my throat. If there is no sign of cancer he’ll most likely recommend that I stop treatments and we’ll go to periodic observations (CT Scans) to see if my immune system is able to fight the cancer on it’s own.
At an oncology symposium he attended recently one doctor shared an anecdotal story of a stage IV lung cancer patient who was treated with a similar type of drug. The patient has been off of the treatment for over 2 years now and shows no sign of cancer. The quandary for oncologists is what do you term this? They aren’t going to say you’re cured when they believe your immune system is actively fighting a cancer that is not in remission and yet how long do you simply classify someone as NED (No Evidence of Disease)?
Please pray with me that I’m a part of that wonderful dilemma – for a long time to come.