November 20, 2014

11 Month Health Update

It's already time for my 11 month post-diagnosis reality health check! A little activity review first! In the past two months, I underwent 11 hyperthermia and iv vitamin C treatments (was too close to the scheduled CT scan to do the 12th session, apparently that can mess up your scans), attended a great friend's wedding in Vancouver (so nice to see the old gang and congrats to S&F!!), quietly celebrated my birthday with our wonderful friends (yum yum dim sum!), savoured several nice long fall walks/hikes in our urban nature reserve, enjoyed a fantastically relaxing vacation abroad (blog post to follow:) to escape the pre-scan anxiety and the increasingly colder weather, came back home to -20 degree Celsius and a pile of snow in addition to a sore back and achey left shoulder :(, and went through the usual bloodwork and CT scans (chest, abdomen and neck). I have to admit my scanxiety was through the roof this past week while I waited to hear the CT scan results. If it wasn't for the back and shoulder pains, reminiscent of my pains prediagnosis, I think I would not have been so restless, irritable and mentally elsewhere. Poor Zoey, who did not fare well after returning from her lovely week at the pet resort (kennel), seemed to pick up on our anxiousness too (or could be because she ate too much dirt and snow in the frigid outdoors). She developed a mild case of doggie flu and now battling doggie diarrhea. I can totally sympathize! She is now on the mend with antibiotics and probiotics, and lots of rest! But I digress... 

We met the oncologist yesterday to hear the news that would determine my fate. Amazing how one little report can determine my "fate", ergo the scanxiety!!! Results? Not great news. All of my lung nodules have increased in size, especially the two new ones on the upper left lobe. At least no additional nodules formed and other organs are still unremarkable. We discussed with Dr. B, at length, what my next step should be. Long story short, continue with Iressa and, watch and wait... AGAIN. Ugh, I hate watching and waiting. The long list of reasons: the new nodules are still too small and in a difficult location to properly biopsy, the clinical trial in Edmonton has closed recruitment because the trial drug (AZD9291) is now preparing to move to Phase III clinical trials which could be established by March 2015 at my cancer centre (!!!), I shot down the option to try the approved next generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor (Afatinib) because of reports of its toxicity, starting chemotherapy would exclude me from the clinical trial I want to enter into, I am not likely a candidate for radiotherapy since I have too many active nodules for the treatment to make any difference "overall", and we discussed doing a PET scan but its results likely won't change my course of treatment so why expose myself to that much radiation? Massive road block. **[insert expletives]**. So, I have no option but to wait for my lung nodules to grow large enough to biopsy successfully, and hope that my symptoms don't skyrocket waiting for the clinical trial to open, if I am lucky enough to meet their mutation requirement. Yikes. We actually don't know for certain whether my shoulder pains are caused by the new growths or me lugging around stuff while on vacation (my confidence is my weakness!). Let's hope it's the latter. In the meantime, time to pick my naturopathic oncologist's brain. If you can't tell yet, I am not the type to sit around and feel sorry for myself. However, I would be lying if I said this news didn't bother me. Frankly, it's scary waiting to see what happens. But I am learning not to linger in the past or worry about the future--that would be wasting my time. My new favourite quote, shared by our nutritional therapist, "Embrace the present and surrender to uncertainty". Words to (try to) live by...

Now, time to look for our Christmas tree!