Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday, July 23th: Oh yes, cancer is my Bitch

"This is the best possible PETscan result you could have."

Exact quote from Julie, the physician's assistant at Rocky Mountain Cancer Center at Pres/St Lukes Hospital in Denver.

Oh how sweet a morning Thursday, July 23, 2009 was - it's one of those new 'anniversary' days to add to my calendar, like many cancer patients do. For me, Wednesday May 20th will always be the day that Dr. Philippon told me I had cancer and, after I awoke from a passing out episode, offered me a beer. I love French Canadians, and I love having a good portion of their DNA in my veins. July 23rd is now the day that I found out the chemo is working, and the signs of malignancy have severely diminished since my last scan on June 4th. The following is a step by step breakdown of what has happened in each of my cancer locations, according to the doctor 'techno speak'. But first, I'll give you some definitions of a few confusing words thanks to the Google:
  • Hypermetabolism is the physiological state of increased rate of metabolic activity.
  • The acetabulum is a concave surface of the pelvis. The head of the femur meets with the pelvis at the acetabulum, forming the hip joint.
  • Lymphadenopathy is a term meaning "disease of the lymph nodes." It is, however, almost synonymously used with "swollen/enlarged lymph nodes". It could be due to infection, auto-immune disease, or malignancy.
LYMPH CANCER/TUMOR IN HIP - "ReScans through the pelvis demonstrate a marked decrease in the hypermetabolic activity seen associated with a destructive lesion involving the inferior aspect of the right iliac bone, the right acetabulum, and the superior and inferior pubic rami on the right. There is now only mildly elevated metabolic activity along the medial aspect of the right acetabulum with peak SUV values ranging up to 3.2 compared to peak SUV values of up to 20.4 on the previous study. The residual metabolic activity may be related to bone reparative changes although low-volume residual malignancy cannot be excluded. The associated slight increase in soft tissue fullness medial to the right acetabulum has resolved. There are no hypermetabolic bone lesions on the current study."

WHEW, now take a break, have a beverage, and dive into the following results:

LYMPH CANCER IN NECK - "No residual adenopathy is seen in the left side of neck and left supraclavicular region where hypermetabolic adenopathy was previously seen."

LYMPH CANCER IN CHEST - "In the upper mediastinum metabolic activity is now normal. There is a residual mass in the anterior mediastinum measuring 24 x 31mm witih no associated elevation of metabolic activity. On the previous study the mass measured 50 x 28 mm with intense hypermetabolic activity and peak SUV values of 10.7. The residual soft tissue mass could represent scarring from treated malignancy."

LYMPH CANCER IN ABDOMEN - "In the upper abdomen, the hypermetabolic activity previously seen in the right adrenal gland has resolved. Hypermetabolic adenopathy seen in the periaortic region at the abdomen has been resolved."

LYMPH CANCER IN KIDNEYS - "There has been a resolution of the hypermetabolic activity previously seen in both kidneys and a decrease in the size of the kidneys. This suggests that the hypermetabolic activity was most likely related to infiltration with lymphoma."

ANYWHERE ELSE IN THERE? - "The liver and spleen are normal in appearance." HA- those years at Ball State in Muncie at the RKE house didn't do too much liver damage, eh?

So there you have it, the Cancer bitch's time is numbered on board of this Bakermobile. Everyone at the RMCC was really positive about these results, which indicate that the only area of potentially 'active' malignancy may be some resilient cells in the hip honeycombed bone & tumor area. That was to be expected, and if the next three rounds of chemo don't get it, then the radiation of my private locations (a.k.a. the 'inner pelvis) with the Three-Mile Island "Special" super-machine will. The down side is that I still have to go through the final 3 rounds - today's round wasn't too bad. My chemo nurse Emily (Go Huskers) has changed my chemical dosage around so they give me this powerful 'downer' called aderol which helps mitigate my reactions to the bag of Benadryl they put in my blood stream. It's kindof like the 'supersize' of valium - woo hoo! By the way, I'm not a Nebraska fan, but they are all so damn nice (seriously, look at Josh Vogel's facebook pictures about our trip to the Ball State - Nebraska game) that I have to give them props whenever I run into them in life.
So there it is, good news for now, but I must continue to be diligent as we go into these final rounds to snuff out this sonofabitch forever. My cousin Mike did it, my Mom did it, so the third round of the Baker Trifecta is on it's way to victory.

Carpe diem.

P.S. - Thanks again from all of my teams, from the ORIGINAL original Jewish Team to the Society of Friends to the Professional Bartenders represented in the clubhouse this weekend and as they say in the old Bartles & Jaymes commercials...."Thank you for your support."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 22nd: Round 3

Right now I'm preparing for the big day Thursday: Round 3 of the treatments, and (most likely) 1/2 way through chemotherapy. The bigger moment will be tomorrow's 8:10 a.m. pre-chemo appointment where I get the results of Monday's PETscan, indicating whether the cancer has shrunk, stabilized, or spread. As I mentioned before, the orthopedic oncologist said promising things about the tumor site and the new bone growth where the tumor had honeycombed my pelvis - let's hope the lymph nodes and kidney activity has followed suit. If it has, it's a very promising few months ahead, with a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. If it has spread or not shrunk, then we'll work with the folks at Rocky Mtn Cancer Center to figure out another plan of attack. In reference from my previous "D-Day" posting, I'm including for your reading (and listening) pleasure part of Winston Churchill's famous 1940 speech to British Parliament which captures the emotion of this whole "fight for my life" experience:

".....We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. "

And don't you worry, the fight is on up here in the Mile High City....surrender is not an option.

Carpe Diem.