So many details. So much has unfolded over the last few weeks. I am not sure where to even begin.
Well – at last blog I was feeling hopeful and excited regarding treatment recommendations from the incredible doctors at UW-Madison. I was also feeling excited about what my trusted Dr. G would think of said recommendations. Madison responded with recommendations to scan and if scan showed treatment had worked then they would recommend surgery to remove lymph nodes followed by the same drug I was on prior to this recurrence. However, Dr. G spoke with the breast surgeon at UW-Madison, Dr. W and explained his recommendations were different. Ahh – and there’s the ‘rub’ of cancer treatment. Two incredible doctors, two different opinions and one patient to make the right decision. What is the right decision?
Dr. G felt strongly that we continue with the course and follow up with twelve weeks of weekly chemo, surgery, radiation and then look into a different “class” of drug as my every day cancer killer. These two extremes are so very different, on the one hand Madison would like to be as non-invasive as possible and Dr. G would like to go full throttle at a chance at another glorious partial remission.
So, the hubs and I sat down along with my BFF, JP, who was in town visiting and talked it out. We methodically went through each scenario, exhausted huddled around the kitchen table we hashed and rehashed. In the end, we went in to Dr. G’s office feeling confident we wanted to stay the course with his treatment plan and mix in a few of Madison’s recommendations as well. We would like to do a scan now and see if the really hard chemo did what it was supposed to over the past four treatments. We also wanted to do the lymph node surgery in Madison with the breast surgeon, Dr. W. And we wanted to hear what Dr. G thought of Madison’s plan after he spoke with them.
Dr. G spent a great deal of time going over the different scenarios with the hubs and I. He agreed that Madison’s plan wasn’t aggressive enough. He felt strongly that we had a good chance of at least a partial remission if we went full steam ahead. He agreed to a ct scan to check the nodes. And that very day we began treatment one of 12 for the next twelve weeks.
The ct scan was scheduled for the day before my second treatment on the new chemo regimen with results about an hour later. I headed in confidently. The first time I did hard chemo the results were incredible. Within two rounds my tumors saw a 50 percent shrinkage! And after five rounds I think it was 70 percent or so. I had no reason to believe this time would be any different. I certainly suffered the pain and exhaustion. In my small mind, that was proof it was working right? I saw Dr. G for results. Well, the results were not what we were expecting. It would seem the desired the results are remaining a bit illusive this time around. Essentially, the ct showed no shrinkage. I sat there stunned. What the hell? How is this possible? I was so ridiculously confident I went to this appointment solo…never again! Of course, the unshakeable Dr. G remained confident and positive. We would continue with the new chemo regimen. We would remain confident that while there was no shrinkage, there was no growth either. That was good news. I needed that good news. I tried to look at this news as maybe a boost of confidence in the treatment choice we had just made.
This week I finished treatment two of 12. I sat there in my chemo chair slightly buzzed on my pre-meds thinking about things when next to me a girl rattled off her birthdate for her chemo drugs, she said 1/14/82. Did she really just say that or I am ripped on these pre-meds? Tears welled up in my eyes, 1/14/82 – that is/was my brother Joe’s birthdate. I took it as a sign and the next 2 1/2 hours I kicked back, closed my eyes and knew this was the right course. There he was letting me know from the other side he was right there, right there with me.