The March of Progress

lymph_nodes_illustration
A Drawing of the Lymphatic System

It’s March, and I have both good and bad progress to report. The good progress is that I’ve finished the second draft of my book and am polishing it up before I recruit some volunteer readers who aren’t my friends or family to read through it and give me their critique. If you know someone who has cancer, who is or was close to someone with cancer, or who works with cancer patients or medications–and who is a serious reader–please send me their contact info if they are willing to participate.

The bad progress was identified by Tuesday’s PET scan and Wednesday’s blood tests.

We met with my oncologist today. He said my cancer has spread to some lymph nodes in my left pelvic area. I don’t know what a lymph node is, and trying to read a Wikipedia article about lymph nodes left me no wiser. I thought a lymph node was something you removed from your belly button or between loads in the dryer. But apparently lymph nodes are important to the immune system, can catch cancer, and can spread it around.

My PSA jumped from 54 to 64 since it was last checked in January. It is still rising linearly, so it could be worse.

When I had my first PET scan last August, my doctor was very happy and said my cancer was not progressing. Now he says it is progressing. It is time to see what clinical trials are available. He will be doing that, contacting the second-opinion doctors I visited in Nashville and New York. He seems especially interested in trials of MEK inhibitors, about which I know even less than I know about lymph nodes. Meanwhile I expect I’ll stay on Keytruda as long as insurance will still pay for it.

This news is disappointing. I was hoping for better, especially as I’ve been feeling fairly good this winter. Most weeks I go to exercise classes at the Y nearly every day, classes populated chiefly by little old ladies. But I get a good workout.

Since I last posted, Liz and I enjoyed an escape from bad weather. We went on a cruise to the southern Caribbean. It was relaxing, interesting, and full of tropical delights, chief among them being warmth and sunshine. I’ve posted an annotated subset (45 photos) out of our full set of photos (over 300).

We deeply appreciate those of you who are walking alongside us in companionship and prayer.