Oh, The Ride!

The one thing that has been consistent throughout this Great Cancer Adventure is the inconsistency of things.  One day it’s up.  One day it’s down.  Then, once you think you’ve managed to adjust to the up/down cycles a surprise hard left turn snaps your neck.  Well, hold on to your neck.  Here comes that hard left turn….

We had a long, relaxed visit with Dr. Loukas today.  We told him about our MD Anderson visit and, while he was pleased that we were content with our second opinion he didn’t necessarily agree with everything that Dr. Eng had to say or had us do.  Crazy, huh?  Doctors not agreeing on treatment.  Who’d a’ thunk it?  For one, he strongly believes that the CT scanner in Austin that we’ve been using is of much better quality than that at MD Anderson.  And, since we got a CT scan in Houston (instead of examining the scan we had in March) we will have difficulties getting another scan here in Austin like he had planned because the insurance company won’t pay for two so close together.  Damn.

We quizzed Dr. Loukas again, as has been our dance, about Maggie’s outlook and how we can get a better prognosis.  And, if not now, what milestone do we need to pass before we can get a better prognosis?  He then told us something that we didn’t expect.  He said that when first saw Maggie that she was on par with the worst he’d ever seen.  She had a lot of disease and he didn’t feel that she had too long to live without a lot of good luck.  He also knew that the cancer was aggressive and without immediate treatment AND if her tumors didn’t respond to the chemo that we’d be short timers.  Essentially, he said it was about as bad as it gets, especially for showing up for the first time with cancer.  So…. Yeah.  It was even worse than we had believed.  And we knew it was bad, just not quite how bad.

He went on to explain that, as we know, the bastard tumors were responding extremely well to the treatment, on par with the best he’s seen.  In fact, because the grimy little big tumors had responded so well from such an awful start that he felt Maggie was in a bit of a grey area, kind of uncharted waters.  He explained that people most typically either don’t respond to treatment or kind of respond.  These jackass tumors, however, have responded extremely well putting Maggie in the “whoo hoo” category (vs. the “oh crap” category.)  Essentially, we have overachieving tumors.  Maybe, if we keep them around we can send the damn tumors to medical school.  Or we can get a bumper sticker that says “My Tumor Is An Overachiever.”  Or we can just kill them.  Yeah, we’ll take option number three, please.

But what does all this have to do with Maggie’s future health?  Dr. Loukas said (and here’s that hard left turn) because the bastard tumors have responded so extremely well to treatment that he expects that they will continue to respond well to treatment.  Typically, he said, when a patient respond really well to treatment, they continue to respond really well (in contrast to what we thought was the more likely scenario of inevitable cessation of chemo effectiveness.)  Awesome!

He expects that later this year the bastard tumors will be shrunk down to nearly nothing and we can ablate them out of Maggie’s liver.  That will reduce to mass of disease down drastically and put the cancer essentially into remission.  If one day the cancer decides to wake up then we’ll hit them again with the same treatment, again expecting a positive, strong response.  And because the damn tumors had responded so well to the initial treatment, he expects that if the day comes when they no longer respond to this particular treatment that we can change treatments and expect them to respond just as well to other treatments.  Fantastic!

So, yes, we are still playing the waiting game but for some reason after talking with Dr. Loukas this morning things don’t seem so bleak.  And, in fact, there’s still hope.  Good, solid, believable hope.  And that makes us smile.

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