Friday, April 25, 2008

Spin Doctor

I had another chest X-ray and liver ultrasound today to see if there's any improvement in my lungs and liver since this latest chemo regimen began.

The results: No significant change in lungs or liver.

The symptoms: Increasing breathlessness and pain.

The spin: The chemo is working enough to keep the cancer from progressing, at least in the lungs and liver. So things are at least NOT getting WORSE.

The options:

1) My increasing breathlessness and pain are a bit of a mystery, perhaps one that could be cleared up with a scan more accurate than a chest X-ray or liver ultrasound. Maybe I need another PET/CT scan or even another brain MRI to see if there's any progression of the tumors in my brain. We'll get the results of a full blood test tomorrow to find out more before resuming chemo in two days (if we decide to go that way).

2) Change chemo regimen again. That would make this the fifth new chemo regimen since January this year.

3) Continue with current chemo regimen and learn to breathe less and take more pain medication.

My reaction to today's news: Disappointment that we didn't find cancer running amok all over the chest X-ray and liver ultrasound. At least THEN, we'd know what was causing this breathlessness and pain! I jest, of course. I don't like this mystery of my symptoms not being explained by these scans, but it's far better than knowing for sure that cancer has taken over my lungs and liver. So in the final analysis, I'd say this is pretty good news and I still have some options left open to me.

Maybe the sheer joy of still being alive is what's taking my breath away! Ha!


Yvonne said...

This brief lifetime is my opportunity to receive love, deepen love, grow in love and give love. By not resisting weakness and by gratefully receiving another's care we call forth community. From Henri JM Nouwen's book. Shin, take care and a blessing to know you. Love always.

leighbee said...

You never cease to amaze are SUCH a huge inspiration to me and one of the strongest people I have ever had the pleasure to be involved with. I am so pleased to hear that the tumours "appear" to be "no worse" but fully understand your frustration at the dreadful symptoms you are experiencing :-( I hope that further tests will allow you to feel better in yourself as soon as possible.

Our love to you as always. Thank you so much for the

Anonymous said...

Could the stabbing pains be caused by bone mets? When was your last bone scan?

Anonymous said...

I am curious about the timing. Why do the first two comments have an earlier time than the original post?

Shin said...

Dear Anonymous re: timing.

I can set the time for my Blog entries to local Singapore time, where I'm writing from. But I can't set the timing for any of my readers' comments - that's automatically set to West Coast U.S. time. That's the explanation that Google Blogger has given me.

So when you see that the first comment on this latest Blog entry, from Yvonne, was posted at 3:05 AM, that's California time. In Singapore time, that would have been 6:05 PM.

Hope that answers your question.

Shin said...

Dear Anonymous re: stabbing pains and bone mets,

It doesn't seem likely that the stabbing pains in my chest and right side are due to bone mets (metastasis, or cancer spread). The pain feels muscular or soft tissue, rather than bone.

My last bone scan was in early 2006, just after I was first diagnosed. Since then, I've opted for whole body MRIs and PET/CT scans over bone scans because I learned that bone scans have an extremely high radiation level and not much advantage over the other scans.

Here's my explanation for opting out of bone scans in an earlier Blog entry.

P.S. My MRI and PET/CT scans show that I do indeed have cancer spread to the bones, but limited to the sternum and upper ribs - different from the spots where I'm currently feeling pain.

Anonymous said...

I just tuned in to your blog, from a friend who enlightened me of your blog. I, too, am a chronic, recurrent, metastatic breast cancer thriver. One thing that has struck me as I deal with various side-effects and quirky ailments, is that cancer doesn't kill you suddenly and dramatically like an aneurysm or head-on, high spped motor vehicle accident, it picks away at you bit by bit. It is a journey of endurance more than anything. I have a friend (one of my prayer angels) who asks specifically for that - endurance. I pray the same for you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply about the timing.

I know that both you and Yvonne are from Singapore and I found the discrepancy kind of strange.

Eagerly waiting for your blood test results. Would like to know about your tumour markers.

Very relieved and thankful each time I see any updates or new comments on your blog.