Final exam day… and some surprises.

So, today was my follow-up visit with Dr. Leal, after four cycles of chemo that started way back in January. I went in expecting the usual mixed bag of scan results, and maybe some heavy discussion of my future. However, I was very happily surprised to hear that my scans showed absolutely no advancement of any of my tumors, and no new activity anywhere. I don’t need to tell you what good news that is, and how relieved I was to hear it. My blood-work showed totally normal kidney and liver function, and a noticeable recovery of my blood counts, indicating essentially healthy marrow that is able to bounce back quickly.

Additionally, Dr. Leal thought it was very likely that my coughing, which has been returning and kinda bugging me lately, is from residual effects of the radiation I had last summer, and not from cancer activity.

The second surprise was that she was encouraged enough by these results to go ahead with two more cycles of chemo, which would complete a full 6 cycles. I was given to understand that, in the absence of a significant reduction in tumor size, she was not likely to want to risk further health impacts by continuing chemo after four cycles. I was very much expecting not to continue. But she was pleased enough with the lack of advancement since my last scan 7 weeks ago, plus the fact that I tolerate chemo well, to want to go ahead after all.

I take this as good news. While I don’t relish the two extra doses and all that goes with them, I think just the fact that she wants to proceed means she is seeing enough benefit from what I’ve had so far that more stability, and maybe even some reduction, could be gained by going on. I’m hopeful, and intrigued to see if this will pan out.

This means another 6 weeks of the old routine starting next week, including those daily shots, but I’m ready to see if we can actually gain some ground here for once.

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I also enrolled in another study. This one is an NIH study seeking to develop a blood test for cancer detection. This would make it much easier to detect cancer early, and would obviate the need for invasive procedures to obtain biopsy samples. I basically don’t have to do anything additional to participate, so it was an easy call. I hope they are successful, and that a lot of people down the line can be helped by this.

All in all, a much better day than I had anticipated, full of surprises, and full of hope for the future. Can’t ask for much more than that.

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