I went back to treatment this morning and it was early (8:30am). First, I had my final appointment with my current Oncologist and we discussed that my cancer is stable and progression free with my current treatment. The plan is to continue with the current "cocktail" and if any significant changes occur in my blood work and CEA, I will have another CT scan. I took my two sons to treatment with me today as they begged to go with me and added some tears in the mix. They were really well behaved and the nurses gave them the royal treatment. :)
I'm feeling alright. The first couple of hours home I was exhausted and a bit nauseated, but I managed to force myself to eat a bowl of lucky charms. It actually helped me to feel a little bit better and I was able to tidy up the house a little bit this evening. Amazingly, I also felt up to doing a proper update to this blog and attending a webinar put on by the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) and FightColorectalCancer.org. The webinar was on advances in the treatment of Colon and Rectal Cancer, more specifically advanced stage disease. The speaker was Dr. Axel Grothey who is a Professor of Oncology at the Mayo Clinic. He was very knowledgeable and did a fantastic overview of current treatment options and options in the foreseeable future. It gives me hope to see all the current research and advances that are being made in colon cancer. I was amazed to learn that I have far surpassed the median survival rate for colon cancer.
However, when he was discussing the use of Oxaliplatin, he stated that no patient should have more than 8 cycles of this drug because of neuropathy. He stated that the neuropathy that is related to chemotherapy and specifically the use of Oxaliplatin does not just go away over time as once thought and is most likely permanent. Sadly, I have received at least twice the recommended amount of cycles (12 or more) of Oxaliplatin. I have neuropathy in my feet and legs up to my knees and in my hands. If anything, it has gotten worse over time. It is a drug that I can go back to if the need arises (it's still a viable treatment option for me). After discussing it with my Oncologist, it would be a matter of how far I was willing to go and quality of life being a factor. The neuropathy could potentially get so bad that you wouldn't be able to walk or perhaps even be able to do necessary bodily functions. Sadly, this is a very real issue. Thankfully it is not one that I need to address at the moment, but it is something that I need to potentially think about.
The webinar had a lot of great information and gave me a lot of hope for the future. I've read quite a few stories of people like me who have survived upwards of 10 years on active treatment. It all comes down to quality of life and how far you are willing to go to survive. For me, it is selfless, my children need me and no matter how difficult it gets at times, I am willing to do what it takes for them to have a mommy. When I have special moments with my children (and there were many today) and I see how much they love and depend on me, it makes it all worth while. I consider myself fortunate to share in every moment.
So, I've got my pump on until Friday afternoon. I'll try to make an effort to update through this cycle. I realize how encouraging a story like mine can be to someone who has just been diagnosed. A diagnosis today doesn't have the same outcome that it did even just 10 years ago. If I do anything through my blog, I hope to give even just one person "hope". So much of this battle is mental and staying positive.
Until next time,
I'm Still Here!
4 months ago