You guys! It’s been a while since I’ve given a treatment update, so here goes. Feel free to ignore this post if this stuff bores you, and just know I’m doing great right now.
You may have seen me live-tweeting the CT scan I had instead of the PET my doctor wanted to run–that happened a week ago. (Are you not following me on Twitter or Facebook? Your loss.) We got the results the following day at my oncologist’s office. The appointment lasted FOREVER because we spent the vast majority of it talking about TV shows (my oncologist and I both love Luther) and my oncologist’s upcoming vacation to Hawaii and a very good bakery on the big island. Because, that’s what we do at my doctor appointments, because my oncologist is rad and we’ve become friends–he even came to Emily’s show. Pro tip: if you’re Stage IV and you can’t make friends with your oncologist, you have the wrong oncologist–who wants to spend that much time with someone and not actually like them?
But of course, we talked about the CT scan too. So, the downside to a CT vs. a PET scan is that a CT finds all the stuff that is out of the ordinary, but it can’t tell you if that stuff is probably cancer. So, like, there is a spot on one of my vertebrae that the CT found, and it showed up on the tests they did in preparation for my radiation this fall. The spot hasn’t changed shape or size or anything since then, so it’s unlikely to be cancer, because it probably would have changed size or shape or whatever if it was cancer–either it would have grown if the chemo I had during radiation didn’t work on it, or it would have shrunk if the chemo did work on it, but instead, it did neither. So the radiologist thinks it’s a bone island (which is the dumbest name for a real thing I have ever heard–it made me think of a brain cloud) and nothing to worry about, but a PET would probably have given us a clearer “don’t worry about it” call than a CT. Fucking insurance.
Besides the bone island, the scan spotted my metastatic tumors on my hip and the on my sternum, and found them to be looking like someone beat them up. Again, if my fucking insurance had approved a PET scan, then we’d know how much of those tumors were cancer, and how much was just scar tissue. But a CT can’t show that, so, fuck if we know what’s going on. Like, good that they look like they’ve been beat up, but how beat up? We dunno.
The best news from the CT is that my remaining lymph glands from the breast system (the ones that can’t be reached surgically, because they cut out the rest) were “unremarkable.” (Pro tip #2: if a medical test uses the world “unremarkable,” that’s good.) And there was nothing else on my scan that needed discussing–no new tumors, and nothing left of the old tumors in my breastal area.
So, to sum up: oh hey look, there’s where we found the bone cancer in the spring. We don’t know if it’s all still cancer or not, but at least it looks like it’s not so bad? Thanks, insurance assholes!
That said, I mean, with no new tumors, and my metastatic tumors at least not growing, this is good news. When you’re stage IV, stable disease is good news. It means cancer isn’t winning. And if cancer isn’t winning, then I’m OK.
Which means, the plan for now is, just keep on keeping on with the aromatase inhibitor, and start looking into clinical trials. Next year I’ll be on a new insurance plan (my insurance is changing networks and my oncologist will no longer be in network–thankfully as a retired federal employee, there are a lot of plans to choose from and my doc will be in network with one of them) and if I’m reading their plan brochure correctly, I won’t need preauthorization for a PET scan, which means no more of this fucking around with inconclusive CT scans bullshit come the new year. And my oncologist is happy with me staying on the AI for three months and then doing a PET scan, and then deciding on our next steps for treatment.
So, the good news is, no chemo for Christmas, or for Thanksgiving, and that is definitely something to be thankful for. When this shitshow began, I wasn’t sure I’d see Thanksgiving, let alone be spending it feeling good and able to make my own turkey and mashed potatoes and turkey and OM NOM NOM WHERE ARE MY EXTRA STRETCHY YOGA PANTS. Happy Thanksgiving, you guys!