Today Lee and I met with Dr. P to go over my recent PET/CT scan. However before we get into that I want to express my sorrow at the sudden passing of a friend, Jeff Elliott. Jeff and I were just casual friends, chatting at the gym or hanging out at get togethers. Jeff always had a smile and witty observations, fun to be with. But Jeff was more, Jeff was also very compassionate. You may remember an earlier post I made about Jeff’s Magical Toyland. After my colon surgery to remove the tumor, Lee and I had a trip planed to Santa Fe prior to starting chemo. Unfortunately my leg brace decided to break. Normally it would take three weeks to repair, destroying our much needed break. Jeff’s hobby was anything to do with metal, he had a fantastic toy shop full of devices to matipulate metal. I took my brace to Jeff hoping he may be able to repair it. Jeff did not hesitate, but since this was a custom brace, Jeff had to fabricate the necessary parts. Which he did, rescuing our getaway, while making my brace is even stronger than before. Jeff came to my rescue again by designing an ingenious enclosure to protect my outdoor spa from pack rats while allowing me easy access to the drain hose. Neither time would Jeff accept anything from me other than a thank you. Thank you Jeff, may you RIP.
Now to our meeting with Dr. P First the good the good news. There are no signs of any cancer in my head, neck, brain, heart, lymph nodes, chest wall, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, adrenal glands, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, peritoneum, abdominal wall, bladder or ovaries!! So no change there. However, two months ago all of the lesions in my lungs were dormant. That ain’t the case now. I now have a solid active mass in my lower left lobe with significant growth and maglinant activity. Not to be outdone, my right lobe also has a very active tumor which, while smaller, is growing more rapidly. Two months ago, there was a suspicious lesion in my liver, wasn’t growing but showed some signs of activity. That tumor still hasn’t grown, but the hypermetobolic activity has almost doubled, indicating that it is up to no good. The other lesion in my liver is still dormant, lets hope it stays that way!
Although highly disappointed, this is no surprise. Lee and I knew that cancer usually adapts to the chemo drugs, mutates and comes charging back. It’s like a football game. The defense or the offense will adjust at halftime to counter the success of the other team. So now that the cancer as successfully adjusted to my current chemo cocktail, it’s time for us to adjust, we will change it. I asked Dr. P what was the mean time of effectiveness of my current “first line”chemo treatment. He replied about 12 months, I got 11 months. My hopes for going on a maintenance program vanished this afternoon. My hopes of lasting until immunotherapy (the “cure”) to become an option for colon cancer also took a hit.
Always a question I ask, “What if I stop therapy now”, Dr. P estimated my life would end in about 6 months, give or take. So on to the “second line” treatment we go. My second line treatment is a chemo cocktail called FOLFIRI. It is comprised of some drugs I took before (5-FU, Leucovorin) plus Irinotecan and Zaltrap. Irinotecan fucks with the DNA of the mutant cells disrupting them from duplicating themselves. Zaltrap is basically Avastin on steroids, it deprives the mutants cells of blood, their food source. I asked Dr. P if Zaltrap was a more effective version of Avastin, why wasn’t I given that previously. The answer is because the FDA hadn’t approved it for “first line” treatment. It can only be used if the first line fails. That’s absolutely nuts to me. Maybe if I had a stronger first line, I wouldn’t need a second line!
As is is usual practice, Dr. P wrote down on the examination table tissue paper the new regimen, with the drugs and their most common side effects. Side effects are basically the same with the exception of Irinotecan. It’s nick name among cancer patients is “I-run-to-the-can”. Lee is off to Costco for a few extra rolls! Since it’s a new cocktail, with toxicity to the immune system, kidneys and LIVER…no wine for Jimmy until we see how my innards handle the new poison. Oh I also got to sign a new acknowledgment that this treatment could kill me. The good news is that I don’t start the new regimen until the 23rd. So only the finest wines will cross my lips for the next week!
Although I am obviously disappointed with this news, fear not dear readers! I’m a tough son of a bitch and I’m itching to kick cancer in the nuts! My spirit is strong. As long as I’m around I WILL live life to its fullest. I am blessed with a loving spouse, great friends and neighbors, two fat cats and a closet full of DUCK gear. Thank you for your support!!!