Bad News: New Progression of Cancer
While Chris and I like to think that we’re able to make jokes about just about any scenario, and cancer is damn funny, sometimes it still gets the better of us. Bad news sometimes is just bad news, and we got a little bit of that yesterday.
Chris’s CT scan showed some progression of the disease. One of the tumors in his lungs grew a bit. This larger tumor is actually a clump of mets, packed tightly together as if they comprised one overall tumor. So you could say that they’ve swollen. And now there is a new one that has emerged, just to the side of the larger cluster. It’s a little cancer dance party in the middle lobe of his right lung. Additionally, there are some swollen lymph nodes in the chest. The radiologist calls it new mediastinal adenopathy. Our oncologist calls it something to keep an eye on. Could be just a viral infection, could be residual IL-2 inflammation, could be strange little men from another universe come to colonize our world by taking over Chris’s body, or it could be cancer spreading into the lymphatic system. We won’t know until they remove some of the lymph nodes. If it spreads into the lymphatic system, which is kind of like an internal waterworks system that could carry the disease throughout the body, this could pose a new set of challenges. Like having to regularly say the word lymphatic. Try it. Several times fast. It’s not easy.
For the time being, here’s what we know: 1.) We’re bulletproof — duh; 2.) We’re completely confident with the fabulous team of doctors that we’ve assembled at Duke; and 3.) We’re nowhere near out of options when it comes to tools to battle this disease.
Dr. George, our primary oncologist, recommended that we go for surgery and cut out the larger tumor. This will depend upon the judgment of the surgeon, Dr. D‘Amico. If he feels that our situation is operable, then we will move quickly. Chris wants a cool scar for Christmas. If surgery is not an option, we will likely be looking at one of the newer systemic drug therapies that have become available in the last several years, specifically the drug Sutent. Our plan is to speak with the surgeon today, so we hope to know something by the end of the day.
In addition to all of this, we also discussed a new clinical trial that Duke will be opening in the Spring of 2011 that could be very promising for Chris. It is another immunotherapy treatment, but the infusions aren’t as intense as the IL-2. No intensive care is required. No catheters plunged into the vena cava. We hear that the side effects aren’t even as bad as those with Sutent. The worst thing that could happen is that, because it has to be administered via IV infusion, Chris might pass out and break his neck. Embarrassing.