Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Full Scoop

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.


Sarah McCormick said...

Dear Suzanne,
SO glad to hear the results. This is the best news. My prayers will continue for you to fully recover.
You stay the strong woman I know you are. Thank you God!
Love Sarah McCormick

antonia said...

Thanks be to God!!!


Anonymous said...

Oh wow, this is GREAT news!!! -AO

Jay Di Silvestri said...

I accept whatever comes from God with all my heart. . . But truth be told, I cannot stop planning your NED party in my head. I know we'll have Margarita's and Tri-Tip, and hopefully Tina's Tiramisu, but I'm not sure about the rest. Hopefully, we can give our friends some small gesture for all the kind things they have done for us!


Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Why is it that we're having all YOUR favorite foods at MY NED party?!

Jay Di Silvestri said...

1) because I am cooking ;-)
2) I prefer to think of them as "our" favorite foods.
3) I will make/buy anything you like for the NED party. Everyone is invited. All you have to do is give us the cause to have it.

Anonymous said...

go suzanne, go!!! Best news EVER!
hugs, tracey

Jen Savard said...

I already have your NED gift picked out so hurry up!!

Jason Schalow said...

Well, a NED party would be totally righteous and tri-tip and margaritas are yummy, so I am therefore now hungering and thirsting for righteousness. AMEN! ;-)

j said...

Suzanne - this is truly great news! Really, really promising. Lots of hugs and good wishes are being sent across the country to you right now.


Anonymous said...


Toni P. said...

God is so awesome the way He uses certain "chosen" people to so positively impact the lives of others. It's like magic the way the words pour out of your hands and into our hearts. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in your life and in your home. Your test results are very encouraging! We will never give up praying for you.
Love and hugs, Toni :)

Ana Galvan said...

Dearest Suzanne,
Be reassured that prayer does work! I trully believe that it does, and I will continue to believe and pray(especially for you) with all my heart.

Take care of yourself and may God bless you always!

Janet said...

Can I fly in from Boston for the NED party? I'll bring Red Sox souvenirs for the kids!

Bianca said...

Praise God for such great news! I am so excited for you and the whole family. I can't wait to hear about your NED party too. Jay cooking and margaritas all around would be awesome! Oh how I wish I lived closer to give you a great big hug!

We will continue to keep you in prayer and you truly are such an inspiration to all of us!

Bianca :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just read the last four posts. I'm impressed by your firm grasp of these procedures. No head in the sand at all! (Some of us resort to that at times!) Remember that first Indiana Jones Movies where the giant boulder was practically squashing Harrison Ford? I remember thinking as I sat cringing in my seat that I would have been road kill in the first five seconds!!! You seem to be sprinting effortlessly. I know it is in your character naturally to be a good pioneer woman, but I'm sure you are surrounded by a bubble of grace. If and when you falter, remember that this too has its merit--when you offer this pain and fear up for those who have so little hope it is like a flickering candle. Let God use you in those moments too...I think this is when you will be the most powerful intercessor...


Emily Aoun said...

For the first time in my life...I am speechless!! I am so happy for you!! I am just in complete's not everyday you are lucky enough to witness a miracle in progress!

***Thank You God!***

Tina said...

For the NED party, I will make the dessert of your choosing (and 1 of Jay's choosing as well since I need to fully redeem myself from my last visit). I'm happy that the prayers for God's Grace and healing are being heard. I will continue to pray for the miracle of complete healing. All my love.