I think of “progress” as being such a positive thing. Moving forward, getting through, etc. But when reading PET scan results, progression is the last word you want to see. Because it’s the cancer that is growing in spite of treatment, like the blackberry bushes that climb over my back fence all summer. My cancer is like goddamn Kudzu, invasive and resistant to the efforts to obliterate it.
The great news is that my liver still looks fine, there is still just the one spot and it’s stable. It’s my bones that aren’t so lucky. This is not horrific news, there is nothing to panic about. The bone mets aren’t even larger, they are just more active than they were at my last scan three months ago. This is why we watch it so closely, so we can catch things as they first get started.
We have decided to switch the bone drug I have been on for more than two years. There is a new osteoporosis drug, Xgeva, that does the same thing as Zometa but some women have a better response to it. So making this change might result in a better reaction, it will shake things up a bit. This drug is given as an injection and not an infusion, so I will just go in every 4 weeks for a quick shot. Easy! There shouldn’t be any side effects.
We are also going to increase the dosage of my chemo, Xeloda. My doc doesn’t think the current progression is big enough to warrant changing chemotherapy drugs, since Xeloda is the only one I have left that is oral and not terrible. We are going to see if increasing the dosage for another 3 months will hold things back until a new clinical trial starts at SCCA that would be great for me. That’s a whole other story, but I have to do some research before I get into that.
Overall, this is good news, even though it doesn’t entirely feel that way. My cancer is controlled, limited to the bone mets, and we caught the progression early. There is nothing to cause immediate worry and as my doc said today, she expects me to live a long time yet. But it’s still a bummer that the chemo continues and is increased. The dream of a break from chemo is totally dead– it’s never going to happen. I am tired of Xeloda and taking even more of it is just a bummer.
So what happens now? Well, I take the next three months and have as much fun as I can. It is more than likely that I will change treatments after the next scan, so I need to enjoy this time and all the freedom I am getting from taking an oral chemo. I’m going to Arizona in March, Cannon Beach in April, and need to plan something for May. And for whatever changes are coming after that, I’ll be distracted by Hawaii in June. It could be a lot worse.