It was a good, but tiring day today! Amazing how 2 appointments can pretty much take up the whole day!! :)
The first appointment was to go do the dentist. Ack!! ::hanging head in shame:: It's been about a year and a half since I was last there. I guess I don't really have a good excuse, other than I have been so pre-occupied with doctors' appointments, cancer treatments, surgeries, etc. that I haven't really given much thought to teeth maintenance even though we all know how important that is. Well, sure enough, a back molar that has a crown on it has been bothering me for a couple of weeks now, so I had to just bite the bullet and make an appointment. The gang was all happy to see me again, along with "tsk tsk tsks" and lectures on how why have I been ignoring my mouth care?? :) Turns out, that the crown/tooth that is bothering me is going to have to be extracted completely. I have another tooth on the right side that has chipped big time... like, half the tooth, so that one is going to need a crown. Then there are about 3 cavities that are going to need filled and a couple of old fillings that are going to need replacing. Gee, it really doesn't pay to leave this for any length of time!! But thank God for Dental Plans!! Phew!!
Hmmm... which dentist to choose?? They are all female, so this works for Pattycakes :) :)
Aha! Pattycakes getting to know Sandra and Dr. Shahabaldine before she allows any dental work to be done on her little bear mouth :)
Pattycakes and the Dental Hygienist... she's starting to like the attention!
This afternoon, I had an appointment with Dr. Sharleen Gill... my favourite oncologist! Ok, so she's my only oncologist, but she's still one of my most favourite people in the world :) It was sooo good to see her again, although I was a tad apprehensive on what the results from the Tumour Marker blood test (measurement of CEA in my blood) was going to be. Just as a refresher on CEA, for those who haven't read earlier reports in the blog...
What is CEA?
CEA stands for carcinoembryonic antigen. CEA is a type of protein molecule that can be found in many different cells of the body, but is typically associated with certain tumors and the developing fetus. The word "carcinoembryonic" reflects the fact that CEA is produced by some cancers ("carcino-") and by the developing fetus ("-embryonic").
How is CEA measured?
CEA is most frequently tested in blood. It can also be tested in body fluids and in biopsy tissue.
What is the normal range for CEA blood levels?
The normal range for CEA in an adult non-smoker is <2.5 ng/ml and for a smoker <5.0 ng/ml. (In Canada, Sharlene told me that anything <4.0 ng/ml is considered normal and they do not worry about it)
How is the CEA test used?
The best use of CEA is as a tumor marker, especially for cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. When the CEA level is abnormally high before surgery or other treatment, it is expected to fall to normal following successful surgery to remove all of the cancer. A rising CEA level indicates progression or recurrence of the cancer. In addition, levels >20 ng/ml before therapy are associated with cancer which has already spread (metastatic disease).
Ok... now for my CEA history....
While I was getting my chemotherapy from March 2007 - end of October 2007, here are my readings:
July 30/07.... 1.8
Aug 10/07..... 2.1
Aug 27/07..... 2.1
Oct 4/07...... 1.8
Oct 22/07..... 2.4
So, as you can see, after my major intestinal surgery to get rid of the Stage III tumour and the follow-up treatment of 8 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation, my CEA levels were really good. All were well under the <4.0 which is considered to be normal and no sign of cancer or recurring cancer.
Then, in December 2007 we had another Tumour Marker Test as part of the ongoing followup:
Dec 7/07...... 6.7
As Sharlene told me at the time, that could just be a fluke and for me to continue with my plans to go to Hawaii in January and we'd re-do the test when I got back. So I did go to Hawaii in January 2008. When I came back, we did the test again in early February:
Feb 04/08..... 18.0
Well, this was worrisome, so hence the reason Sharlene ordered a PET scan for me. Now, a PET scan is a very expensive scan but lucky for me, they have it under clinical trial at the BC Cancer Agency so although the cost of the scan is approx $7000/scan, I was not affected by the cost since it's covered by the Clinical Trial. In March, I had the PET scan plus another Tumour Marker blood test. The CEA level in March 2008 was:
Mar 14/08.... 30.0
So, the rest is history. The PET scan lit up in two areas... the right adrenal gland and a spot on the right lung. And the decision was to do surgery on both areas. As of right now, the adrenal surgery has been done and we are deciding on what is going to happen with the lung surgery.
Sooooo, last week when I had a CAT scan of the lung, I also had another Tumour Marker blood test done and are you ready? The results from last week's Tumour Marker test is:
Aug 21/08..... 1.5
The lowest it's been since this whole journey has started!!! Yippppeeee!!!!
Sharlene and Dr. Yee are in conference together and, as usual, I present quite the enigma to them, but then I have since Day 1 so why should now be any different? The lesion on the lung is so slow growing that it does not follow the pattern for a primary lung cancer or a metastacised colon cancer deposit in the lung. But, the big thing is that it DID light up the PET scan and what causes a PET scan to light up are rapid growing cells (cancer). Normal cells do not grow that fast, hence do not light up a PET scan.
Soooooo... Sharlene says that she would like me to have another PET scan and see if this enigma in my lung lights up the scan a second time. That will also help Dr. Yee decide what we should be doing. I beez an enigma!!! :D The PET scan will probably be within the next month, so it's possible that if we are having the surgery, that will be delayed until the PET scan happens. But all of this is very good news as far as I'm concerned!
Oh, and it keeps getting better! Over the summer, I have managed to lose 45 pounds!! Go figure??? I wasn't even trying, but there you have it!! Not that I know for sure, but my guess is that it's because of the adrenal gland. One of the hormones our adrenal glands produce is cortisone... and any excess cortisone produces fat, especially belly fat. So, when you take away one adrenal gland, the remaining adrenal will compensate and create the needed hormones on it's own. I'm thinking that my remaining adrenal gland is now creating just what my body needs and not any excess... hence, the weight is starting to come off!! Now, that's just my personal thoughts on this... time will tell. If I continue to drop weight without actually trying, then I think there is something to my guess :)
Last night, an old friend from the early theatre days was in town. Philip lives in Toronto now and has for at least 20 years (I'm sure someone will correct me and say it's been longer, even though we all are in denial that we are getting older
This is a picture I took of the gang --- from left to right: Teddy, Kate, Paul and Phil (in the back), Joan, Ian and Peter with Lily in front.
This one Kate took with (from left to right): Peter, ME, Paul, Phil, Teddy, Joan, Ian with Lily in front. I don't know when I got so short... how did everyone get taller than moi? I swear I used to be one of the tallest of my friends!
Teddy Forsyth and Dogma!! Oh my! But Dogma can seriously give Bridget a run for her money in the "cute" department! We are going to have to get these two together and see who will end up winning. It was pouring last night and I knew I was going to have to tackle a kajillion stairs to get up to Ian and Teddy's place, so Bridget stayed at home... but one day!!! :D
MOI, Peter and Kate! Do we not all look happy and are aging soooo well??? :)
So that's about it, I think!! I hope I'm not missing out on anything more. It was one very happy day, but now I'm going to have a stay at home night and just unwind :) The sun DID come out this afternoon (yayayaya) but now, I see it is really windy out there! Well, that's a good thing...it may keep all the clouds away and we'll actually have a
Ciao for now!