In between scans, tumor markers or other blood tests are used as indications as to whether a treatment is working or not. Because tumor markers are notoriously unreliable, the doctors look for trends, rather than going by a single test.
Intellectually, I understand this, but my numbers-centered mind sees each test as a stand-alone case, rather than the trend that is looked for. When the number bucks a positive-looking trend, it creates anxiety in me.
For the first two months of the year, my tumor markers decreased. This brought about cheers from everyone. Then, the third month came and my tumor markers rose by ten units. Silence.
What does the rise mean? Is the cancer on the move again? Had the cancer figured out how to get around the treatment I'm on?
I get scanned every two months. I went in for the scans last week (chest/abdomen/pelvic CT with and without contrast and full body bone scan), fully expecting to hear bad news. My stomach has been giving me lots of trouble this month, so I even expected gastro-intestinal mets.
I am grateful for my medical team who, aware of my anxiety, called me on Wednesday afternoon to let me know that everything is stable. There are no new lesions anywhere. No new bone lesions, no lesions in any organs ... pretty much no change. My scan reports are short paragraphs now indicating the best news possible (other than the cancer being gone!).
And that is good. Very good.
We don't know why the tumor markers rose. Because I'm having such stomach difficulties, it could be due to inflammation in my intestines. We won't know until we get the stomach straightened out or until the next tumor marker test on April 1.
My follow-up appointment is on Tuesday at which time we'll discuss changing up the diabetes medications. It's highly suspected the stomach difficulties are directly related to those meds.
In non-medical news, we are all doing well. My sister came out from Omaha to visit and both Rachel and Michael are in full swing with spring-time activities. Art got to visit his parents while in the Midwest for business.
I did finally finish writing (copying) out the book Numbers. It took five months to do so! I am glad to be finished with it and am now neck deep in the world's longest sermon ... Deuteronomy. While writing through the Bible continues to raise many questions for me, I also find comfort looking at the big picture as well. There are days in which I am filled with doubt and days in which I am filled with "knowledge." I do look forward to the day when I know exactly what everything means.
As for today ... I'm living my daily miracle and I'm happy to be here.
That's good enough for now.