Comme ci, comme ca

This afternoon Lee and I met with Dr. P. to review my PET scan and discuss my options for on going treatment. As usual my blood work is fantastico!  White cells, platelet count, liver and kidney function are are perfectly within normal range. Did I mention the Pinot Noir I am sipping right now is delightful?  Thank you Mr. Liver!

The exciting news is that all the tumors, and there were gobs of them, in my lungs show essentially no activity.  Hooray!!  The liver also showed signs of progress, but one tumor did show slight growth. The growth is so small that it is within the margin of error.  So no big worries.  But the PET scan does shows that the tumor is still somewhat active.  Although I could stop the current chemo regimen and do the “maintenance” with just Avastin, I decided to continue on with the full meal deal.  After drilling Dr. P a bit for advice he said that if I was tolerating  5-FU, it would make good sense to continue based on the uncertainty of the liver tumor.  If I can’t stand the 5-FU, I could take a break from it or drop it all together.  It is all about managing my quality of life with extending my life.  No big deal, right. Let’s see, 5-FU requires a 3 hour afternoon in the chemo lounge twice a month, causes chemo brain, fatigue, chemo snot, makes my mouth sensitive, and makes the skin on my hands thin (which causes discomfort and sores due to the friction from my crutches) and I have to deal with a physically attached portable pump 48 hours twice a month.  None of these side effects are particularly lovely, but neither do they drastically impair the quality of life   So I signed up for 5-FU for two more months.  By the way, although 5-FU stands for 5-fluorocuracil, Lee’s cousin came up with a variation of the name I like better: 5-FUC.  5-FUC stands for F**K U CANCER!  Let’s finish off that liver tumor!

I have two of my wine buddies from Oregon visiting tomorrow, John and Paul.  They are on their way to Scottsdale and doing a little detour to Tucson. They were originally customers of my wine shop in Portland way back in 1982.  We’ve been friends ever since and have shared many wine fun adventures over the past decades  I’m sure we’ll enjoy a bottle or two or….tomorrow night.🍷 On Wednesday I resume by 5-FUC treatment.  Got to take care of that liver!

Last week we enjoyed a wonderful sunny and warm visit from Lee’s mom Marian and her partner John, vacationing from cold snowy upstate New York.  A gluttonous and fun time was had by all!image

I was able to complete one painting over the past two weeks.  Sophie is a Schnoodle who lives in Tacoma, WA.  She is very sweet and VERY spoiled.image



Breaking Down Barriers

imageBubo the cat, who lives with  vineyard owners and wine connoisseurs in the Oregon wine country, often enjoys viewing my portrait of her in her Halloween  costume.  Yes, she was actually wearing a glitter mask for the festivities!  Kitties need to party too!

Dr. Richard Pazdur, the oncology chief for the Food and Drug Administration for the past 16 years, had been denounced by many cancer patient advocates as a slow obstructionist bureaucrat.  His view changed after he watched his wife endure three years of ineffectual treatment for her ovarian cancer with conventional drugs.  Tumors continued to grow and side effects were awful.  Her last hope was an experimental compound that was not yet approved by the federal regulators. Since that unfortunate episode there has been a profound change at the FDA in speeding up the approval process. Recently Vice-Presdent Biden experienced the loss of his son to brain cancer.  Last night President Obama announced a new initiative led  by Vice-President Joe Biden to break down barriers to collaboration among cancer researchers and to increase public and private resources in the fight against cancer.

Technology in the war against cancer is moving, hopefully the change in attitude at the FDA, combined with Joe Biden’s new focus will unleash the power of our medical technology.  I am presently being treated with a drug “cocktail” (5-FU) that has been around for 40 years.  Although I have had a very positive initial reaction, the historical evidence is that the cancer cells  will adapt to 5-FU and render my treatment ineffective leading to the loss of my life.  The clock is ticking for me and thousands of other Stage IV patients.  These recent changes will hopefully speed up the process for immutherapy for colon cancer which has shown the potential to be very effective.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of my 15th treatment.  Unfortunately I had not informed my doctor that I changed insurance companies beginning this month and it took 90 minutes to get approval for my treatment from the new company.  I subsequently was told it normally takes a 7-10 days to get approval. Kudos to Lupita at AZ Oncolgy for their efforts in getting approval in 90 minutes.  The treatment itself  went fine.  The numbers from by blood work all looks good, within normal range, except for my CEA cancer marker.  The CEA went from 3.1 to 3.6, normal is 3.5 or less.  I’m not concerned as fluctuations occur .  On the 25th, after my PET scan, I’ll have a better view of the latest on the devious actions of my cancer cells.  I am assuming they are shriveling up and dying.

With all the year-end activities, I got behind a bit on my painting.  I was able to complete Miley, this little cutie below, and should soon be done with a painting of a Schnoodle, not the cookie, but a Schnauzer-Poodle mix.  My first designer dog!!  We are looking forward next week to a visit from Lee’s mom, Marian, and her partner “farmer”  John.  They hail from a small farm in snowy and cold upstate New York.  We’ll all enjoy some sunshine with their visit!image

Miley is the puppy dog of a friend’s grand daughter.  My assumption is that the grand daughter and puppy are equally spoiled, as it should be!