Sunday, December 17, 2017

More Scans and Biopsies

I am living a torn life lately: I want to be in Texas, but I'm in two feet of snow in Michigan to see my doctor. We reviewed the latest CT scan. She has a slightly different take than I did. To me, the CT results suggest spots on the liver, and my bones are much worse. My antigens are in the 5000s. To her, she is skeptical that the spots are new or that they are even cancer -- they are the same spots we've seen before. She thinks the findings on my bones my be the xGeva making itself known.  So, she's ordered a PET scan. There's nothing like data to help us make the right decisions.
Festive white lights in multitudes, wrapped around a huge old Texas pin oak tree.
Merry Christmas from Texas, y'all!

If the spots on my liver light up, I have liver mets. If not, no concern. We soldier on. But if they are, in her mind, they need to be biopsied in the same way my skin was. The bones are less concerning than the liver: the liver mets will kill. The bones will just be a big pain in the....well, hips and other locations. So, she wonders if the liver mets -- if that's what they are -- are HER2+.

Human Epithelial Growth Receptor 2. That's what they call it. It's one of the factors that oncologists consider when determine how to treat the cancer. It is a "tyrosine kinase receptor." Sometimes, the cancer gets this receptor a little over excited, and it expresses too much, causing more bad cells to grow. Treating it often kills the cancer nearly completely (except for the hidden cells, apparently). I responded well for quite some time to a treatment focused on HER2+ cancers.

But the latest round of biopsies showed my skin to be HER2-. So we've been treating that, with "mixed" success. (See above.)

And here is where my own oncologist is just superior: she thinks I'm still fighting both. If I am, that would explain why I progress on one treatment or the other. Maybe I need to be fighting both at the same time.

That's what I've been saying all along.

And HER2+ cancers are really sensitive to treatment.  I damn near defeated them; leaving the HER2- stuff behind. Now, maybe we'll get them both at the same time. If she's right, she'll add Tykerb to my Xeloda. If not, there are other new treatments for estrogen positive cancers...and mine has always tested highly positive to estrogen. But first, I might have a little radiation to my skin. That way, I'm not fighting that. I have to set up a consult with that other brilliant doctor, the radiation onc.

So, as much as I want to sit in the warm(er) Texas sun, I'll slog through here for a few more days for my PET scan, head back down for the holiday to celebrate my first RV Christmas, and wait for what's next. I'm still on Xeloda, and numbers be damned, my skin is responding to it, if nothing else.  My sisters in treatment tell me that sometimes the antigens are high because of treatment. I'll chose to believe that's the case for me.

The Xeloda isn't horrible. I'm tired, my appetite gets poorer, my hands and feet are sensitive and I am as emotional as it gets...all within a three week cycle. My new cycle begins again December 19.  But compared to this summer's constant malaise, I'm feeling overall better. So, onward.

Merry Christmas from Texas, y'all. Thanks for your love and support. Feel free to shout back here, on Facebook or Twitter.