I'm feeling much better today, and it's a good thing, too. Jay managed to fix my dryer last night (which has been broken for several days), so if I was still down for the count today I might have drowned in a pile of dirty clothes. As it is, I'm superlaundrywoman today. And grateful for it, too.
At any rate, I am now able to give a more thorough explanation of how my scan looked, for those who are interested. Those who are not can skip the rest of the post and refer to the shorter version of this news contained in yesterday's post.
Before you can understand how good this recent scan is, you have to understand how bad the last one was. I haven't put too much detail up about what my liver and bones looked like when we began treatment, only that the cancer had spread there. In fact, I didn't really know myself exactly how things looked until I picked up my original scan report last Friday in preparation to understand the new results. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't know the details until I was fairly comfortable that good progress was being made. My doctor was wise to be vague with me.
Before treatment, the cancer was quite widespread and intensely active. Besides the breast, which was basically one solid tumor, I had numerous affected lymph nodes, several of which had measurable tumors in the neighborhood of 2.5 centimeters, and at least eight measurable tumors in the liver. The largest of these was 2.4 by 1.7 centimeters. Cancer virtually covered my bones from neck to knee and, again, was intensely active. In fact, it was so active that the radiologist who reviewed the scan believed that I must be on bone marrow stimulating medication in order to create that kind of metabolic activity. I was not, nor had I ever been.
Last week's scan shows a completely different picture. When examined for actively growing cancer, the breast and liver are noted as "resolved" while the skeleton and lymph nodes are "mild" or "interval reduced". The liver tumors, although still numerous, are now all "subcentimeter". The lymph node tumors are slightly reduced. The sclerotic lesions on the skeleton are unchanged. (Which means they are no longer growing, so this is great news.) I am not sure how bones heal themselves from cancerous lesions, so I will have to ask my doctor more about that. But either way, bone damage is more inconvenient than life-threatening. The liver was, by far, our greatest concern and it is responding beautifully.
Perhaps most significant is that I have made this kind of progress against this nasty, aggressive cancer in just 9 weeks. Only three treatments. There are many people who are on chemo for years without ever hearing news this good. The hope is that I will continue to respond to this drug for many months to come, and there is every reason to believe that I will continue along this path, although, admittedly, I still have a way to go.
In my eyes, my biggest danger right now is hope. When first diagnosed, I never imagined a cure was possible. I never could have entertained the idea of receiving a NED scan someday. (No Evidence of Disease.) Now I want that, am hoping for it, will be disappointed if I don't get it. I prefer, from a self-preservation standpoint, to be less hopeful, but here I am. Full of hope, reassured that prayer really does work, and completely grateful for the medical care I am receiving. Thanks be to God.