I spent all day Thursday and most of Friday at the hospital, and began round two of the clinical trial. I had my routine blood work done and I had my monthly tumor marker blood test done. While there are several tumor markers that may be used to measure the presence of metastatic breast cancer, only one has proven to be reliable for the cancer I have.
The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test measures the amount of a certain protein that may appear in the blood of some people who have certain kinds of cancers, especially large intestine (colon and rectal) cancer. It may also be present in people with cancer of the pancreas, breast, ovary, or lung.
CEA is normally produced during the development of a fetus. The production of CEA stops before birth, and it usually is not present in the blood of healthy adults.
The CEA test is used to:
- Find how widespread cancer is for some types of the disease, especially colon cancer.
- Check the success of treatment for cancer.
- CEA levels may be measured during treatment with medicines to destroy cancer cells (chemotherapy). This provides information about how well the treatment is working.
It's easy for me to get caught up in the numbers ... they are objective and don't depend on emotional input to evaluate them. They are what they are. I have gotten so used to seeing this number rise, that I've even moved away from being impacted by it. However, tears came to my eyes when I received these results. I feel like I've been given a gentle reprieve from the tyranny of cancer for a while.
The photo is the graph of my CEA trends. It will be interesting to see what they are next month. I will have scans taken on the 16th to get a picture of what's actually happening in my body.
I still have cancer. It's not gone. My health can change at the drop of a hat. However, I've been given another gift ... another miracle ... of perhaps some extended time. As I told Art, I feel like I can plan for this upcoming year without so dark of a cloud over me. I continue to feel well and have plenty of energy. I'm managing the medically induced diabetes as well as it can be managed and I've gotten used to saying, "I'm a diabetic" when ordering food and asking for changes to menu items.
As always, thank you for being a part of our journey. Thank you for walking with us and participating in the ups and downs. I'd still like to challenge us all to live in the present and to not put things off for the future. There's no time like now to be who God wants you to be.
Here's to 2014! May we live and grow in God's love.