We’ve come to a fork in the road on our Great Cancer Adventure. We have the opportunity to make a high-stakes bet. Bet one way and we may win the jackpot. Bet the other way and, while we’ll probably loose it all, we’ll get to stay at the table to play the game for a longer time.
I’ve had conversations now with both Jolie and Lisa regarding the visit with Dr. Curly at MD Anderson. BOTH of them were very clear about what was said in that meeting I couldn’t attend: Put Maggie on oxaliplatin to shrink the tumors for surgery. For any chance at surgery, those tumors have to shrink. The CPT-11/Xeloda mix is keeping the tumors from growing but they aren’t still shrinking. No oxaliplatin, no shrink, no operation.
Dr. Loukas, of course, has a conservative (and admirable) goal of keeping Maggie alive as long as possible. As long as the current treatment is keeping her “progression free” meaning the tumors are not growing bigger, he’ll stay the course. Only when his hand is forced will he switch to the next chemo, for reasons I’ve explained before.
If we switch to oxaliplatin, there’s a real risk that it might not work at all. If it doesn’t, we can’t bail and go back to CPT-11/Xeloda. Heck of a place to be. Or, if we switch, the tumors may shrink but not enough. But now we’ve played both our CPT-11 AND our oxaliplatin cards so we’ve cut precious time off the end we could have had if we would have waited until the last minute to make the switch.
So, here we are, sitting at this fork: Do we insist that Dr. Loukas switch Maggie to oxaliplatin or do we stay the course with CPT-11/Xeloda? Do we go all in for a chance to win or do we play conservatively and just try to stay in the game as long as possible? As Steven Tomlinson would ask: What’s more important: one difficult and painful shot at a cure, or maximizing the amount of time and quality of life we’ve got left?
Wow! How often in life do you get the opportunity to make such a once-in-a-lifetime, bet-your-wife’s-life decision?
The gravity of this choice is pulling on my heart and warping my soul.