Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Balance Between Good and Evil

My CA 15-34 and CA 27-29 cancer antigens, which shows another drop by half, into the 400s.
The good news...the red circles shows
more reduction in my Antigens
I have had a few data points since the last update. First, we did more antigens. Antigens 15-34 and 27-29 measure breast cancer tumor proteins in my blood. I feel the charts say it all. They went down by half again! I think we can definitely hang that drop on the Lynparza. That’s great news.

Then I got the CT scan.

Well, it wasn’t bad news. The liver seems to be improving, for sure. Many tumors smaller, nothing bigger, nothing new. Ok, I’ll take that.

My chest looks much better post-radiation.

Bones, on the other hand...well, those bones.

There is diffuse sclerosis of the osseous structures which is worsened from prior examinations. Additionally, a few of the more focal appearing sclerotic metastases appear mildly increased in size and density from prior examination. This is a nonspecific finding by CT and could relate to treatment related changes/partial healing response. Osseous progression of disease is difficult to definitively exclude.

Translation: It looks like there are more numerous and more intense bone mets, but it's still hard for them to decide if they look active because they are coming or going.

The rest was unchanged or normal. But there was another troubling finding:

There is new subtle diffuse groundglass opacity throughout the lungs which may relate to a mild acute infectious/inflammatory process including possible drug reaction.

Translation: My lungs may be developing a bit of inflammation due
to the drug, most likely. And yes, I have had symptoms, including an odd spasmodic cough.

Well, that’s not great news. And it came just as I was ready to give up. I struggle so much with Lynparza. I had had yet another bout of painful cystitis -- I have one every other day -- and I have a version of chronic anemia that is odd and annoying. I was tired just walking up the stairs, which may be from the drug as well. There were other symptoms. I was a bit afraid to go out.

My onc completely understood. She knows that this is taking its toll. She's concerned about how I'm feeling. Not only that, but she floored me by telling me that Astra-Zeneca is calling to find out how I'm doing as well. Imagine that, so-called Big Pharma, taking a somewhat personal interest in my success. How can I not give it another go?

Near a road sign, on top of a roadside rock outcropping, someone has carefully balanced a series of rocks that mimic the shape of a man.
Life is a balance, like the
balancing rocks along
the roadsides of Northern Ontario.
The doctor wanted me to take a break for testing, and I was more than happy to. I’ve now been off for two weeks, and I am beginning to recover. (I still want to nap today!) I have seen my urologist: everything is as it should be, so we just have to manage the symptoms. We're trying some different strategies. In some respects, the drug is aggravating something I would deal with when I'm 80; it's making it all happen now due to hormone changes. I have to figure out what I would have done then, now.

I will see a lung specialist for the ground glass, and a gastro doctor, just to see if the chronic tightness in my tummy when I eat can be improved easily. I’m already breathing better, so I think we can attribute the appearance of my lungs to treatment. I admit I'm able to eat better, so it's still the drug. But let's see, just in case.

We weigh costs and benefits, the good with the bad. No treatment has made much progress in over a year. I think we can manage the bad of this treatment, at least I’m going to keep trying, on a doctor-approved lower dose. I'm also going to go easy on me, plan some fun things to do, some travel, and live the rest of my life. The last quarter wasn't great, and I want to catch up with life again.