Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Prognosis

As I'd hinted, I had a little bit of advance notice of bad news. Michelle, Dr. Amatruda's nurse, called me yesterday afternoon and asked me if I wanted to know the result of the recent PET/CT. Previously, I have waited to hear from Dr. Amatruda so I could ask questions right away if it was bad news. But since I've already had bad news, I decided to go for the word up front.

She told me that the PET/CT showed that my cancer had spread again. It was now in my pelvis and omentum, a membrane in my abdomen. The tumors in my verterbra had grown. But the liver was looking okay.

I let Angie in on this late last night, after Heather had gone to bed. The abdomenal spread to me explained the pressure I had been feeling in the abdomen -- a side effect is that fluid collects near the tumors or something. But overall, my outlook does not look good. Angie decided to join me for my visit with Dr. Amatruda earlier today. She had questions about what to expect.

Dr. Tom reiterated much of the above and went into further details where necessary. But much of what turned into a pretty long office visit involved my future and outlook. The short version: six months might be on the long side of my expected remaining life.

I elected to give one more form of chemo a shot for the off chance that it does something, maybe just buying me a little more time to see my happy little Heather. Temazolamide is the name, and pill form is the game. It's not supposed to be as harsh as the intravenous stuff, and we're not really expecting any great results, but I'll give it a try.

Mostly it looks like my future will be continued deterioration as the cancer spreads. I will grow weaker and need to think about giving up work. And look into ways to stay comfortable and control the pain. We talked about things to do in regard to work, insurance, considering eventual hospice care, and such like that. Not exactly uplifting, but it was a necessary exercise.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers that have helped bring me along months past the typical expectation of 9 months from diagnosis: I've beaten that. And I enjoy every extra smile from Heather, every little laugh from Angie, and all the smiles that have come to me from jokes and stories from life. Short of a miracle though -- and I'll take one if it comes along -- I probably won't be ringing in 2011 with you.