Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday, December 14th, 2007 - Oncology Report

Dearest Bloggy,

Ok, this is getting downright silly!! The last entry in the blog was December 3rd.. back when we had some snow??? But, but, but... that was 11 days ago!! I'm sooooo sorry to have been so tardy with the entries. Hmmm... maybe that should be my New Year's resolution. Forget peace and good will to mankind... I'll consider myself successful if I can just be more frequent with Bloggy entries :)

Ok... first things first... yesterday's appointment with the Oncologist staff:

Anywho... yesterday (Friday) was my visit with my oncologist to go over the results from the CAT scan I had done the week before. This was the first post-chemo CAT scan and the first of many "Diagnostic" plans for how they will keep watch over me like a hawk. The CAT scan is just one of many diagnostic tools they can use, along with blod work.

Soooo, the results from the CAT scan were very good in that they did not show any return of the cancer in the intestinal area (or surrounding organs). They also did blood work and did a "Tumour Marker" test. Now, this is not to say they are "marking a tumour"... it's just the name of the test. What this does is measures levels of a substance in your blood called CEA. Higher levels of CEA would indicate reason to believe there is an active cancer in the body. I had a Tumour Marker test a few months ago (while I was still on chemo) and the levels were very low which is a good thing. This week's Tumour Marker results showed an elevated level in CEA.

The first doctor that sat with me was an intern... and I believe they are getting "patient interview" experience at the Cancer Agency. He was nice enough, but he certainly didn't make me feel at ease. There is a huge difference between those doctors with excellent bedside manner (like my oncologist, Dr. Gill) and the newbies... who can put more fear in a patient not because of what they have to say, but how they say it. He said that the CAT scan results were good, but that the Tumour Marker results were concerning. So, after we had our appt. I asked him if I was going to see Dr. Gill today (yesterday) and he said yes.

For those who don't remember seeing a picture of my favourite oncologist, Sharlene Gill, here is a picture of the two of us. It is wonderful to feel comfortable with your doctors/specialists... but it is phenomenal to have someone on your team who is so extremely bright, super knowledgeable in her field of expertise AND is compassionate and can relate to her patients and put them at such ease....

Thank goodness!! Her whole attitude is so positive, compassionate and you know she KNOWS what she's talking about. She said that she is not at all concerned about the Tumour Marker results at this time. She says that they could be a blip in my system, a "false positive" or numerous other possibilities and nothing to get too excited about. She said that we will be doing these Tumour Marker tests every couple of months and they probably will fluctuate over time. Meanwhile, the next one I'll have done will be in February and if, at that time, the CEA levels are up even higher, then we will look at having a PET scan (which is a total body scan vs a CAT scan which focuses on one particular area).

So, the good news is that there is no regrowth of cancer in the intestine or surrounding organs (according to the CAT scan) and the elevated levels of CEA may or may not mean anything. But either way, the team at the Cancer Agency will be on top of every diagnostic tool and if they do find something, they will have caught it at an early stage and we will go back into treatment.

Oh.. and yes, she did mention the lump that was found on my adrenal gland (above the right kidney) that was actually found during some CAT scans during the surgery in 2001 (which no one told us about). They found it again with the CAT scans during the intestinal surgery last January but said they were pretty sure it was benign since it hadn't grown at all in 6 years. So they are keeping an eye on that as well. Apparently, it has grown somewhat over the last year, but even benign growths can grow, so she isn't too excited about it at this time... and it is something they will keep an eye on.

It's wonderful to know I have such a fantastic team... and that, for the next 4-5 years I will be watched like a hawk. I'll actually be in safer hands than most everyone who has no idea if they have cancer or not. They could get one and not know it... hence not be treated for it. Whereas no cancer will stand a chance of getting past my team :)

Not only that... she is thrilled that I'm going to go to Hawaii. She says that this is the best thing I could do for myself. What with our wet, chilly, gray Pacific Northwest winter... this is creating havoc with my arthritic joints. The chemo and 8 months of toxins have really done a number on them and she says that the climate of Hawaii... the moist, WARM air will do me all the world of good. She is pretty sure that the warmth will make the joints that much more comfortable and the more comfortable I am, the more movement/activity I'll be able to do without pain. So it's a win-win situation and she is so glad I am going. Hahaha... had I known she was going to be so enthusiastic about her approval, I may have tried for staying longer!! LOL!!

Now, I could have sworn I had taken some more pictures that I was going to share on here, but alas, the memory is foggy. I'll have to go searching for them and see what the heck I was thinking :)

Meanwhile... it is getting awfully close to Christmas!! For the first time that I can remember, I am NOT finished my Christmas shopping!! I am one of those people who usually have it all done by sometime in November... but not this year! I haven't even started wrapping the gifts yet (on today's agenda to get that started!). I don't think I'm going to even attempt to go to the stores on the weekend... I don't have a death wish (chuckle). I have earmarked Monday for finishing my shopping... and Tuesday if need be because my friend, Alison and I are going out for lunch on Granville Island on Tuesday. So any last minute items, I'll do on the island :)

Ok... I really will try not to be quite so long inbetween blog entries. I wish EVERYONE who is reading this entry a safe and successful shopping/wrapping/socializing week or so before Christmas :)