Wednesday, September 3, 2008

No Visible Cancer in PET Scan!

Last week I had a PET scan to see how good a job the chemo therapy has been doing at killing the cancer in the three areas the cancer appeared in my original PET scan several months ago. To my great relief that doctor called to report that there was no visible cancer but that I still had to do my eighth and last infusion this Thursday. (Had the PET Scan still showed cancer then I may have had to continue the chemo twice a month for two additional months.)

So currently I do my last of eight infusions tomorrow and then I have to get radiated 17 times to kill any microscopic cancer cells in the three tumor areas that might be hiding. After that I've supposedly got a 80% chance of being 100% "cured".

In reality I understand that because the cancer treatment I'm going through is rather carcinogenic itself I have a 10% chance of getting some other cancer within the next 20 years. But hey, I'll take the 20 years and the 90% chance it will be longer since I'm pretty sure I would have been dead in 4 years had I elected not to be treated this time around.

Neutropenic Hospital Stay

Sorry I have not posted in a while, killing Cancer is a full time job what with all the doctor appointments and medical tests (not to mention feeling poorly or desperately tired 70% of the time).

The most interesting thing that's happened since my last post is that I ended up in the hospital for about three days, a week and a half after my fourth infusion (half way through). It seems I was having a lot of sweats and was running a fever of about 101 degrees or so off and on for several days. When I mentioned it to my doctor's nurse she told me to go to the emergency room at UCSD and tell them I had a Neutropenic fever and that they would probably admit me.

Sure enough, several hours later the ER doctor was explaining that my ANC count was below 500 and that was not a good thing if I had some sort of fever in my body. So they admitted me to my own room (so I didn't catch someone else's kooties) and started pumping me full of antibiotics from Monday evening through late Wednesday afternoon. Sure enough they ended up killing whatever was causing the fever and got my ANC count way up with a couple injections of Neupogen.

Speaking of injections, they also insisted on giving me a shot of Heparin in the stomach (quite unpleasant no matter how pretty the nurse) every eight hours to "prevent blood clots". After a while I figured out that they try to do that with everyone admitted to the hospital and I was not really all that special. When I knew I was getting out on Wednesday I said, "Thanks, but no thanks" on the last couple injections.

One special note is that if you're going to get stuck in a San Diego hospital I highly recommend UCSD's Thorton hospital. It looks like a fancy hotel and as a patient you order your three meals a day from what looks like a hotel room service menu. The food was excellent and it's even served by someone in a room service uniform. (Best thing about it is you don't have to tip them!)