“Good news! We have measurable disease!”
That’s what my oncologist said as she poked her head into the patient room, and she actually meant it. In the strange world of persistent, irrepressible cancer, it is possible that confirming you have a large tumor in your pelvis is good news. Good news, to me, would be more like, “you have no disease” or “you have less disease”, but that’s a whole other world– perhaps an imaginary one.
The good news she referred to is that the MRI I had on Wednesday showed definitive measurements of the tumor stretching from my rectum to my bladder. The darn thing is 11cm long and 5cm around. That’s like a fist. But, now that we have a way to measure it, and because my kidney function is returning to normal because of the nephrostomy, I am now a potential candidate for several phase 1 clinical trials. This is an exciting time in advanced colorectal cancer treatment, and hopefully my oncologist will place me on one with drugs that will fight for me.
The most difficult part of the current scenario is that if I take part in a phase 1 trial, I’ll need to be in Nashville much more–weekly for sure and sometimes for multiple days. On a tour of the drug discovery clinic at Sarah Cannon, I was shown the treatment rooms, which look more like nice hospital rooms, where I might need to spend 14 hours or so in observation after giving me experimental medicine.
My head was spinning in this world where people were smiling and excited, and I just wanted to fall in a heap on the floor. The people there are very nice, though, and go to great lengths to help their patients. I’m trying not to panic about how this is going to affect my job and family, but we’ll continue to fight this one day at a time.
Anyway, for now, I’m still off treatment, but I expect to start something next week. They are screening me for various biomarkers to determine the best targeted approach for my cancer type. I’ll know more on Monday.
Oh, and by the way, Italy was better than I could have imagined. It was incredible. We toured, we ate great food, drank good wine, and laughed a lot. The trip was good for my soul, though it wasn’t good for my opinion of the food and wine here. Kim and I are spoiled now. Thanks Mom! (double meaning intended)
We took a million pictures, which I’ll somehow make available in some format in the future. The picture above was taken from my hotel window in Siena (Hotel Athena).