Saturday, February 25, 2012

Scan Results and What's Coming Next

The scan news is pretty good overall. My liver and lungs remain clear, which is so very important. I have a new lytic lesion on my T-9 Vertebrae (which explains why my back has been hurting of late, but how I was hoping this was just garden variety back pain!). But most significantly, I have a new brain lesion, in the right posterior lobe. It is still small, 5mm x 7mm or so. So, the question is, do we watch it and see what it does, or do we get it out of there right away.

Complicating the matter is the fact that I have Blue Shield and UCLA and Blue Shield have fallen out of contract (as I mentioned in another post). I have one treatment left with my current oncologist as my continuity of care runs out on March 31st. They have been clear that these issues will not be resolved within that time, if ever, so I need to find a new treatment facility.

Dr. Selch, my radiation oncologist, is one of the very best doctors in the world at treating brain metastases stereotactically (one single very targeted and very strong dose of radiation) which would mean no cranial surgery for me. UCLA in general is the pioneer of this stereotactic radiosurgical procedure, and if we are going to be removing this bugger, I want it done by Dr. Selch before I go to someone new. I know there are many excellent doctors in LA County, but I feel so comfortable with the ones I have, especially where my brain is concerned, that I am going to squeeze all I can before I have to move on.

So, I saw my radiation oncologist and my neurosurgeon yesterday and both are willing to push this through within my time limits and definitely recommend that we follow the path of immediate removal. They will be starting with another MRI, this one sliced ultra thin to 3mm. They warned me that when they slice that small they may find another lesion or two in which case they will take those out too.

I can't say I am surprised to learn I have a new brain lesion because, if I am like 99% of people with brain mets, they are likely to keep popping up every few months and my life will become like a giant game of whack-a-mole. I can say, though, that I loved these few blissful months of not knowing and just hoping that I would get a completely clear scan.

Again, this was not a bad scan. What is there is completely manageable and not currently life threatening. Nothing is out of control right now. It just means I have more treatment, sooner than I thought. But it is my understanding that stereotactic brain radiation has very few side effects and I shouldn't go through anything like I did with the WBR. Don't know yet what role Decadron, the evil steroid, will play in this but that will have a lot to with how I view the overall experience, I'm sure.

In the meantime, does anyone know of an outstanding medical oncologist at Cedars-Sinai? I already have a referral for a radiation oncologist, so we are getting there!


antonia said...

thanks so much for sharing. I think about you all the time

anna lisa said...

What I KNOW Suzanne, is that wherever you go, a throng of Saints and angels will be above, below and beside you. As for the rest of us mere mortals, we are like that annoying old woman, harassing the judge, every day!!!!!
Whack-o-mole!! Classic.

Emily Aoun said...

You are, by far, the strongest, bravest and most faithful person I know!! Huge hugs and tons of prayers!!

Sarah said...

Keep up the fight! I will keep up the prayers! Together we can do this!!! Love you,

Anonymous said...

We are going to pray, pray, pray! And I am glad to see you haven't lost your sense of humor... whack-a-mole? LOL! Love the visual!

Anonymous said...


I am out of town right now but have been keeping up with your blog. I contacted a RN I have known for many years. She now works at Cedars. She is doing some investigating among the nursing staff, including her charge nurse who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer a few years ago. I will report in as soon as I hear more.
Praying for you daily.

Hiking for Hope said...


Check with Dr. Lekovic at House Clinic Neurosurgeons in L.A. and Dr. Mak at Pasadena Cyberknife to see if they can use Cyberknife (better than GammaKnife, IMO) on the new spot. I'm currently awaiting treatment for an 11x8x11 mm spot in the cerebellum. You DON'T want to wait and watch it, IMHO, because you don't want it to get deeper. The i.t. Herceptin isn't gonna do much more than bathe the meningeal layer. Have you found out if they'll try the TDN through the O-res? Please send me your email!
Still praying for you!

Bianca said...

I'm glad that you are using your benefits at UCLA to the fullest extent. Hopefully the transition to Cedars will be "painless" and will give you confidence in their philosophy. I love your sense of humor and had a vivid vision of Suzanne's "whack-a-mole". Just don't give the hammer to Natalie, ok? LOL

Keep up your sense of humor and we will continue to keep you in prayer.

Annie Bizzi said...

Offering our Lenten sacrifice up for your suffering--you are so loved--always in the thoughts of many, prayers of hundreds, and loving arms of a compassionate army of angels...

Miss you greatly and still glad to read of your constant drive to push forward and use that amazing God-given strength to show that cancer who's boss!
We send our love--xoxo said...

I am researching at Cedars Sinai for you. I know some people.....I hope that can help....:) Love and healing and light and prayers, A