In the last entry, I spoke a little about the treatments that my Dr. and I have agreed on.
However, because of my need for re-grouping and tea, I didn't have a chance to mention a few other options that we had discussed. Here goes...
For those of you who are wondering if I will be forced to undergo any more chemotherapy, I can't give you an honest answer yet. I've got my fingers firmly crossed in the hopes it doesn't come to that.
The only way that I will be undergoing more chemo, is if the oncologist find that my cancer has spread elsewhere.
Just for a little background knowledge, the most common sites of metastasis include bone, liver, lung and brain.
Chemotherapy will not help kill the cancer tumors already in my brain because it can not cross the blood brain barrier. The cells here restrict the movement of objects in and out of the brain, for our own safety. No doubt, this includes chemicals such as chemotherapy which would otherwise destroy the healthy tissue in our brains.
In London over the next two weeks, I will be undergoing a battery of testing, including two more CT scans (abdomen & chest), an MRI, and a bone scan. If it has metastasized beyond my brain, the results of these tests will help us with a specific course of action for treatment. Although it is on my mind, I'm staying positive about this thought. Nothing can be done until the results are in, and I have enough to think about as of this moment.
As far as additional treatments for the brain mets (which is far easier to type, so out of laziness, will hereby referred to as such), my radiation oncologist and I also spoke about neurosurgery and radiosurgery.
Before my visit, Dr. Read had already contacted a neurosurgeon to gather his input on how effective surgery would be at this point. His response was understandable. At this point, there is no real reason for surgery. Opening up the cranial cavity and poking and prodding around to remove things is generally a pretty scary thing to do. If any tiny thing goes wrong, I could be left off far worse than I started. I would like to keep my senses about me for as long as I personally can. He did say that if the tumors become too large, and they are severely impacting my ability to function normally, then surgery is definitely and option.
As far as radiosurgery, that is also a possible treatment option for the future. Dr. Read informed me that should this treatment not work the way that we are hoping, then she will be more than willing to refer me to one of the few centers in Canada that utilize this form of treatment.
I'm not about to bore everyone with the details, but I found the link below quite beneficial in explaining what it is all about.
The side effects from the radiation that I will be undergoing could possibly include swelling of the brain, headaches, nausea and vomiting and hair loss. I know its silly, but I am really kind of bummed about that last one. I mean, I JUST grew my hair back in. JUST. So weak.
Oh yeah, and possible memory loss... as if i don't have problems with that one anyway :)
On Friday, I was visited by my home care nurse. I am lucky enough to have the same nurse I had follow me through my treatments last time. She is absolutely wonderful.
We were able to speak at pretty great lengths about what is going on and what steps I need to be taking to keep myself on the right track. She suggested that I start meeting with a palliative care physician as soon as possible so we can help reduce any pain and discomfort that I have to increase my quality of life.
Palliative is not a word that I though I would ever have to hear, and it kind of hit my like a sack of rocks in the gut when she said it. Regardless, I believe that it is the right decision for me at this point, if even just to help me get my head around what is going on.
I've aso been referred to a social worker who spends quite a bit of time dealing with people that find themselves in situations similar to my own.
Lastly, she gave me a little piece of advice. She told me that this beast isn't going away. It lives in my home and occupies the same space that I do, but I need to focus on shoving it into the closet and getting on with my life as best as I possibly can. I need to give the the respect it deserves, which is non whatsoever. It may be here, but I'm not giving up my fight.
In accordance with this, my Dexamethasone(steroids) was served with cake this morning. It felt pretty darn good :)