Thursday, July 20, 2006

7.20.06, Restaging #2: The Big Turn?

First, let me offer a sincere thank you for all the supportive, insightful, and real comments. Curious to note, also, that subgenre of comment we might call "benefit of the doubt" posts. Overall, it's clear how these themes hit home for so many. This was helpful for me to re-address and re-settle the matter, I hope we keep up the discussion.

I'm going to withhold a Franky Scale report for a while, since it's still that early stage of day when I'm wiping sleep (rather fitful and not deep at any point) from my eyes and working to get caffeinated. For now I wanted to prepare for whatever will be posted later, after the restaging.

It may or may not be a "big turn" today at my meeting with Dr. Whiting, my oncologist. There are the most obvious options for outcome: worse, better, no visible change. However, based on the CA 19-9 numbers I've been reading for the past, what, three cycles of chemotherapy (or about 9 weeks) I'm secretly expecting better news than not. To recap, the so-called cancer marker, the CA 19-9 number, has gone down every time it's been measured. When I started chemotherapy in April my number was something like 12,700; by last measure it was 5790. I'm told that although the absolute reduction of more than 50% seems impressive but for the doctors it doesn't say as much as the simple fact that the number itself has gone down each time by whatever increment.

At one point this week I was thinking through the possibility of bad news. It's supposed to happen at some point, sooner or later; and from what I was told at my last restaging (took place on 18 May 2006, 8 weeks ago) that point of no-more-progress is supposed to arrive in around 6 months or so. That already is an improvement from where I started. I've responded well to the GTX chemo "regime" (I love when they slip up and use this term, instead of regimen, because it hides nothing of the raw control of my body that is really exercised by all the drugs I let them give me — for a brief moment Ideology pops its head around the corner and grins), and what this means now: I'm collecting some winnings to play on later. I win a couple of one-month chips and slip them into my pocket, hoping, trying to remember whatever I've learned about craps.

The Big Point of my telling you this? I was afraid. Last week, realizing that since nobody has come back from where I am now — in terms of stage IV pancreatic cancer — the real question to address is "When will it turn?", I felt some premature sadness about it. Will it be today? I doubt it, but who really knows? Then if I do win a few more chips today, what's the best strategy for keeping them? I'm chained to the table, every day I throw the dice.

"Big Turn" as I used in the subject/title line today is probably hyperbole. Maybe it's too early for such "big" events. So, let's hope it is hyperbole, and I'll report back in the afternoon when it's all done.

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