Friday, January 23, 2009

January 23 - More good stuff

Lynda and I had a great visit with the oncologist today - this was my first visit with the doctor since my first treatment two weeks ago. Our impression was that the doctor was surprised at how well I am doing!
  • During the exam the doctor checked out the lymph nodes in my neck. During the initial visit she easily found a lump in the left side of my neck - the next day the PET scan found cancer there. Today, the doctor could find no evidence of the lump - it has disappeared.
  • My blood pressure is much closer to normal - for the first time since my first doctor visit mid-December. Prior to December my blood pressure had always been text book.
  • My blood counts have returned to normal levels (white and red cell counts). This will be something that will continue to fluxuate dramatically as a result of each treatment.
  • The fact that the cancer was not found in my bone marrow has caused me to be reclassified as having Stage 3 Lymphoma (she originally had me at Stage 4). Note that the staging for this type of cancer is not the same as other types. Stage 3 essentially means that the Lympoma exists above and below my diaphram.

Until this point I had not pushed for information on the odds of success or the odds of re-occurance in the future. Based on all the factors (including my age and overall health) I am in the low-intermediate category. According to the statistics this puts me in the 80% range that I will be cancer free at the end of the treatment and will remain so past five years. The percentages don't go much higher than that - I'll take it!

We also discussed the process for evaluating progress of the treatments. I expect I will have another CT scan toward the end of February. The main focus area will be the 7 centimeter growth that was found around the kidneys. Any reduction in size of this tumor will be a sign that the treatment is working as planned. Based on how my body has responded so far (neck and overall I feel great this week) the doctor fully expects that the tumor will be smaller. I'll take fully disappeared and call it another miracle! Regardless of the amount of progress, the doctor told me that I will be doing the full eight treatments.

A couple of folks have sent me some information on supplemental herbal treatment options (ex. Triphala which is an India based approach). I talked to the doctor about these and she is insisting that I stay away from those while I am on the chemo treatment plan. She doesn't want to do anything that might cause interference with the existing treatment plan - especially when it appears to be working.

My confidence continues to grow that we are on the right path and that with everyone's continued prayer support and the grace of God that we'll beat this!


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