March 30th, 2010

Last Mile?

Yesterday's good news - almost the first thing I saw when I walked onto the Oncology floor yesterday was a flyer for clinical trials of a topical treatment for "tingling in hands and/or feet". My onco confirmed that that is indeed a very common side effect, even this long after treatment, especially for someone that has had as many treatments as I have. So, almost certainly *not* a circulation problem.

After that, well... There's a bit of ping-pong going on with my doctors. The onco thinks that the next step is pretty clearly surgery, and was surprised by the surgeon's hesitation. Given how minimal the side-effects of chemo have been for me so far, we Thistletops had kinda been hoping that just a bit more of the same might be the "easy" fix. Not so much. I'd already gone two rounds beyond the standard four, and while they've been effective, the returns are diminishing along with the size of my tumor. The only option we really discussed for additional chemo didn't sound good - three months collecting stem cells from my blood (10% chance of failure at this stage), followed by a mega-dose of chemo and another three months recovery while pumping the collected stem cells back in (5-10% chance of serious/fatal complications here). Even with all of that, there's no guarantee that it'd completely eradicate the cancer. That approach is really more of a last resort, especially for a cancer distributed through the body. Mine, fortunately(!), remains concentrated into a little walnut-sized growth.

Which takes us back to the surgical option, and all the complications inherent in prying the little bastard loose from my aorta/vena cava. My onco was going to consult with another specialist this afternoon, as well as having one more talk with the surgeon. I'm expecting a call from him tomorrow evening. But the next step is almost certainly an angiogram, trying to get a little better picture of just how troublesome surgery might be. Exploratory surgery was even mentioned, though not by the surgeon (yet?), so I'm not worrying too much about that (again, yet). I'm not *worried* about any of it, really - it's the waiting more than anything else. This was *damned* scary at the beginning, but once I got through the biopsy/orchidectomy/first round of chemo, it's just been something to work through rather than be afraid of.

And of course the punch line to all of this is that I continue looking/feeling better than I have since the start of chemo (don't worry, no hair pictures today). If it wasn't for the scans showing otherwise, I'd swear it was gone already. :-7