Through the diagnostic spanking machine, darkly

First off, Florida was fabulous!  There was sun, there was fun, there was drinkin’ bein’ done (ok not that much…LAME…#oldfogiespringbreak).  It ended up being a great way to be able to take a step back from the daily grind back home and process the bomb that had just been dropped – the perfect combo of relaxation, distraction, laughter, and tears, wrapped in the safety net of close friends and family.  Hung in West Palm Beach with ma bestie, her hubby, the dancing queen, and my new buddy, ‘Bill’.  A home away from home where I could nestle in and just BE for a few days.  So much ❤ ❤ ❤

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The best ladies!

From there it was off to Ft. Lauderdale, where the Brunner clan congregated to watch some amazing beach volleyball (Tay-o Brooney!!!).  We may have also played some cards (500 on the beach!) and somehow managed to survive the inevitable food shortage that occurs at these family gatherings.  So much gratitude, from both me and Kevin, going out to everyone that was there to offer the gift of love and companionship during such a crap-ass time (and, in true Brunner style, not letting me win a single game of Oh Hell even though I was just diagnosed with Stage IV cancer… 🙂 ).

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Theo and Casey autographed shirt we brought back for Maggie

While in Fla, I was in contact with my med onc (medical oncologist), health insurance case manager (that woman is da bomb…she called just to check in and see how I was doing after she saw my diagnosis), and no fewer than a dozen scheduling specialists (I don’t know what makes them special…perhaps the inability to answer any relevant questions???).  At any rate, we got all the puzzle pieces put together so that I could hit the ground running with tests and planning appointments the week I got back.  Let the diagnostic spanking machine begin!  I got back Monday night, 2/13.  Tuesday was a bone scan (clear!) and abdominal MRI to further evaluate the liver mets.  Wednesday I had a liver biopsy (surprise, it’s cancer!).  Thursday was a brain MRI (nothing there…tumor wise).  Friday I had an appointment with my insomnia psychologist (a break in the cancer appointments, though not unrelated as the whole not-being-able-to-sleep thing started with chemo last year).  Saturday we were looking forward to a well-deserved break from medical bullshit but ended up in the ER for 9 hours because I was experiencing abdominal pain (more intense than the past few months…turns out they nicked a branch of the portal vein during biopsy so now I have a thrombosis (blood clot) that requires twice daily abdominal injections with an anticoagulant until it breaks up (could be forEVER) and a 2.5cm cyst on my right ovary…really?!?  Damn.

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ER visit, around Hour 8

 

Sunday (and on the fifth day they rested…at least from medical business).  Monday was President’s Day and I had off work and was free from appointments, but Baloo got his rabies vaccine.  Tuesday we met with surgeon to discuss options…not a great candidate for resection at this point due to: location of main tumor (uppermost area on right side near the back/lung…tough to get up in there), size of tumor (ablation not really an option, they have to make a large incision to get at it), stability (tumor is still growing, 25% bigger in 2 weeks between scans 😦 ), 3 month recovery from surgery would make the timing of systemic treatment like chemo difficult, and finally that damn blood clot in the portal vein makes surgery risky.  Had an overnight sleep study thrown in there, too:

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Slept surprisingly well with all that shit attached to me (arms, legs, head, chest).  Dang.  No answers there…

 

So, we’re beginning this cycle of treatment with radiation (see previous post for mo info), but won’t know for a month (or two or three) if it did the job.  In the meantime, we’re still waiting for my genomic sequencing results to come back to see if any specific markers or pathways are identified that might give us a leg up in figuring out how to attack this beast systemically.  Doc thinks that since chemo didn’t have much effect on the breast tumor the last time around (we finally were able to find out specifics about that first clinical trial I was on and turns out I did not receive the study drug, veliparib or even carboplatin…which is good in a way because historically triple negative BCs have better response rates to platin drugs, so it might be a good option for therapy down the road), chemo alone (even in tandem with another chemo drug) won’t be the best option, but mixing in an immunotherapy drug or something else might do the trick.  I have a couple smaller, indeterminate masses still taking up residence in the right lobes of my liver and we can monitor those for response to systemic therapy.  Surgery, specifically ablation (burning or freezing), could very well be an option for those masses, as well.  If the right side of my liver wants to continue to grow tumors and we have to remove/radiate more and more of it, they can try to expand the left side to compensate.  I know, science, right?

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My bags of drugs are getting bigger and bigger…you’re welcome, big pharma!

And now I’m off to do some of this activity they call quilting, which I haven’t done in so long I’ve almost forgotten how it works…

❤ love ❤

-JEB

 

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