After a successful recon mission 10 days ago, at 0800 this morning the mission to destroy the liver tumor was launched. My Interventional Radiologist placed beads of radioactive isotopes, only a third the width of a human hair, into the blood vessels feeding that nasty tumor previously residing in my liver. She sealed all the exits out of the area to protect healthy tissue and organs and poof…bye, bye tumor! This is a very targeted and amazing technology, more like drone warfare when compared to the carpet bombing indsciminate destructive effects of chemo. Compared to other cancer treatments, this is much less invasive with fewer side effects. No procedure is 100% guaranteed, but the IR doc gave the tumor a double dose of isotopes and is highly confident of success. It will take a couple of days for the destruction of the tumor to be complete and confirmation of a kill will be several weeks away.
Of course there is always drama. A side effect of Lonsurf, the chemo I currently take, is a rapid reduction in neutrophils (the white blood cell that fights infections). My pattern is that the fall off occurs about 20 to 23 days after my cycle begins. The Y-90 assault on my liver tumor will also suppress my white cells and neutrophil production. We have been watching my counts closely with twice a week blood draws. Fortunately my bone marrow is highly responsive to the drug Zarxio which almost instaneously counteracts the drop. Well, my neutrophil drop is right on schedule as they dropped slightly below normal yesterday and my white cell count was only 2,300 (normal range is 4,500 -11,00) this morning at the hospital. Unfortunately the doctors office didn’t contact my insurance in time for a shot of Zarxio yesterday, so we dropped by Dr. P’s office on the way home this afternoon for a shot. With another shot tomorrow my white cell count should be back to normal.
As I mentioned the side effects are not bad, although one is a bit unusual. I must abide by the 3 by 3 rule: for three days everyone should stay three feet from moi. Try explaining that to a cat, good luck! When they waved the Gieger counter over me after procedure the meter read .001, pretty cool. I had to ride in the passenger side of the rear seat on the way home and must sleep in the guest room, not so cool. I had some back and heart burn like pain after the procedure and that will be around for a few days along with fatigue and flu-like symptoms that may last a week or two…or not. I’m planning on feeling fine. I’m hoping I’ll be able to join Lee in our booth selling fabulous paintings this weekend the Quail Creek Fall Festival Arts & Crafts Fair and I have a presentation of my book on Monday afternoon.
The great news is that I am home! Hooray!! I get to sleep in my own bed…er scratch that, I get to sleep in the guest room bed!!! More good news, Little Lee and I were surprised by and treated to a lovely dinner from Giannasi Catering delivered by the cutest little Italian boy, Moe Giannasi. The love and support we get from all of you just blows me away. Thank you
The Y-90 technology has been around for about a dozen years, but there is only one doctor in southern Arizona who is currently practicing this procedure. Naturally she was not in my HMO. As you know, I had to fight with the insurance company for about six weeks to get approval. It is an approved Medicare procedure, the doctor accepts Medicare rates, and it was a medically necessary procedure to extend my life. The insurance company knew they would have to approve it eventually. That was assuming I was still alive and well enough for the procedure. I wonder how many patients who don’t have the energy or will for the fight with the insurance company and don’t have an advocate to fight for them would have accepted the “Not in Network” denial resulting in an early departure from the living?
But enough of my rants The middle of October I had many old friends pay me a visit to celebrate my birthday with Lee and I, such a wonderful time we had. Last week it was back to normal and I found these four new friends at the end of my paint brush.