Well I finally got the answer to the question I posed in my blog entry last October. It was not quite what I was hoping for. While statistical models predict a 4 year survival horizon in 80% of cases with cancers like mine, the envents of the past two months have me suspecting that I am perhaps a statistical outlier. — An exception to the rule. Time will tell.
Following what seemed to be a good response to the 8 course of the CHOP protocole last summer, it appears after my 8th and final chemotherapy infusion, the cancer did not waste time to come back. Indeed, it came back with a vengance. In mid-november (2012), I started feeling more lethargic and experienced a gradual loos of appetite. In hindsigh, it was a rather subtle transtion that lurked “under the radar” and went largely unnoticed. In fact it all came to a head in mid december when my oncologist noticed that I was not well; I was one “very sick puppy” and had me promptly hospitalized. I actually lost track of time and space for a few days while the hospital staff tried to find me a room. I was not eating and the attending doctors and wife Suzanne confirmed the worst: I was close to having a private audience with St-Peter. Really ? I was blindsided and did not see this coming at all! I was looking for the more obvious symptoms like fever, cold sweats etc. Sleepeness and loss of appetite were not specifically listed in the oncology patient’s handbook.
I was placed to an isolated room in mid-december since I was in a state of neutropenia (i.e. very low white blood cells), which critically expose me to the risk of infection. Another course of chemotherary (ESHAP*) was started immediately and I was attended by at least 5 different speccialists (two oncolocogists, a microbiologist, an onco-hematologist, a dietician, and physiotherapist). I also consulted a psychiatrist to sort out and attenuatate some phycotic effects of the medication which prevented me from getting more than 2 hours of sleep a day. Currently, things are getting back to normal after some adjustments to the chemotherapy dosage and a mild anti-psychotic medication.
The last PET scan results indicate that the cancer has spread. Indeed, the scan shows mainly the following :
1) A net progression of the of lymphatic impact since the last PET scan done in late september;
2) there is extensive impact to the liver;
3 Lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphram, the pleurae, the lung(s), the liver, the spleen, and the bone marrow in the area of the right solder bone, the fouth lumbar vertebrae (L4) and the left ishium bone (stable).
Wow! The concer is manifestly an aggressive one. In response the this resurgence, my oncocologist opted for an equally aggressive protocol, ESHAP. This is done in out-clinic and consists of 4 courses of infusion during 5 consecutive days spaced two weeks apart.
In addition, he has also enlisteted me for a autologus bone marrow transplant at another hospital as soon as the course of ESHAP is completed. That is it there are apparently no other option after the bone marrow tranasplant. I am hopeful that these two later treatment protocols will do the job of keeping ridding me of my cancer.
In the meantime, I am in very good spirits and remain optimistic that all the outcome of all this will be a positive one. I am also very grateful to my wife Suzanne, my brother and sisters, relatives and friends that continue to support me thourgh this life adventure and challenge.
* ESHAP is an acronym that designates the chemotherapy drugs used to prevent the multiplication of abnormal (cancer) cells and to destroy them.