Friday, July 29, 2011

I am thinking I want to see this movie

I am also thinking I'd like to see what Roger Ebert has to say about it when it comes out.  He is one of my heroes.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quick Update--Still in Clinical Trial

I spoke with my daughter, the med/peds resident in Minneapolis, last night.  She was much more sanguine about the renal lesion and said that they are quite common as non cancerous growths.  And, during our conversation,  I remembered that the traditional metastatic growth path for lung cancer is lungs, liver, brain bones.  Not kidneys. 

I met with my oncologist this morning.  At first Dr. Martins recommended terminating the clinical trial because there continued to be progression in my tumors' growth.  In response I noted what Sarah had told me about renal cysts and that I had an ovarian cyst that seemed to be non cancerous as well.    I mentioned the pathway that lung cancer normally takes, and he conceded that kidneys were not part of that.  Then, I asked him if it were possible that the progression of my lung cancer could be slowed down by the clinical trial, and  might rev up if I go off.  He said that that was a possibility.  Finally, he said to think about it this way--if in 6 months I felt the same overall as a I do now--would that be a good thing for me?  I said yes, I thought it would.  So the clinical trial folks were contacted back in New Jersey, and they said it would be a discretionary decision on Dr. Martins' part. Given my discussion with him and my feelings on the matter, he agreed to continue with the clinical trial.

We have nothing really to go on at this point other than my intuition that this is the path to take.  But I am willing to take the risk.  In addition, the clinical trial manager noted that according to my blood tests from two weeks ago,  my thryroid gland has  been working in overdrive but not producing the hormone needed.  This has been a side effect from the monoclonal antibody in other participants. Today's results confirmed the thyroid imbalance,  so I am being prescribed synthroid.  One symptom of low hormone production, I was told, is hoarseness.  So there is something to consider as a possibile cause of my continuing hoarseness while speaking that might have nothing to do with my surgery two months ago. 

So, while I don't know where this is ultimately going, I am feeling much encouraged.  And thanks for all your good wishes yesterday both on the blog and privately.  They really helped.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Not so good news

It appears that some tough choices will be made tomorrow.  The ct scans essentially showed that the old tumors are either dead or stable, but there is a renal abnormality that my oncologist thinks is of questionable significance but is enough to (a) be a cause of concern about metastasis and (b) probably sufficient to toss me out ot the clinical trial.

Here is the read from the radiologist's report:

Kidney: There is a round hypodensity in the right kidney seen on
image 4/78. It measures 8 mm in diameter, compared to 6 mm in
diameter from the previous study of May 28, 2011. On the study from
March 8, 2011, there is a renal lesion measured 2 mm. There is
progressive growth makes this lesion suspicious for metastatic disease.

I should find out tomorrow about the clinical trial.  If I can no longer participate, it is unclear what, if any alternatives remain.  This is my fourth line treatment.  There are very few options remaining.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fingers Crossed for July 25th

My next ct scan is July 25th.  Here's hoping that the tumors have not grown so that I can remain in the clinical trial.  This article about how easy it is to misread ct scans in estimating tumor sizes is not helping me stay sanguine.

It's been a quiet past few weeks.  Even though Seattle has  only had 18 hours of 70 degree + weather all summer, it still has been a busy time with gardening added to the mix of things.  My backyard is loving the weather no matter the temperature and I've become quite the digger and weeder.

However, came down with a summer cold the end of last weekend, courtesy of my son.  When you are teaching small kids how to swim and life guarding at a pool, as he is, it is normal to come into contact with lots of virii, so this  is not unexpected.  But the severity of the coughing is surprising, and as a result, I've taken a few days from work to recuperate.  My voice has been affected as well and it seems I am going backwards rather than forward.  Part of the problem is that in order for me to achieve resonance with my new speaking voice, I can no longer speak in low tones--I must raise my pitch up to a girlish cadence.  And there is nothing I hate more than sounding like Lisa Simpson.  So I am fighting this, and the end result is that my voice continues to resemble Marge Simpson's instead.  Not much better, eh?

Something else that I didn't learn until weeks after the thyroplasty is that the scar tissue at the incision site is adhering to the scar tissue from the incision into the windpipe below it.  So I have this rather unattractive indent in my neck which makes the skin around it droop even more.  Sigh.  Any delusions of beauty are gone these days.  One of the signal aspects of aging is that you become more and more invisible in society as youth fades.  I just wish there was a corresponding rise in being taken seriously.  But not with this voice!  I'll just have to go Greta Garbo and not say much.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Blue Walk--on the Riviera in SE France

I have a dear friend, Carlo, who I used to work with in the AG's office.  We did travel fraud cases together.  She would put together the arbitration/mediations as part of settling with companies that I sued for violating the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Travel Sellers' Act.  She was very, very good at this.  But, unfortunately, both of us eventually went our separate ways and she is now based in San Diego with her own travel agency.  One thing that she and I shared was a love of things French--in 2002 she found a tour for me where I went to the Languedoc region of the country and spent a week with my friend Mary Pat, hiking the back country, getting lost and finding our way back to where we were to meet our taxi by the end of the day and eating good food and drinking good wine.  An experience that is worth writing about at some point.

But the point today is that Carlo has a new venture out called The Blue Walk.  It is a one week guided or self guided (for a little bit less) tour of the French Riviera from the Italian border to Menton.  You are based in a lovely 3 star hotel in Nice and travel out each day to a new site to hike and enjoy all that the area has to offer.  And if you are like me, and can't read a map very well, you would probably enjoy the guided tour,  since you don't have to worry about getting lost.  In addition it comes with a 7 day French rail pass, so you can walk as much or as little as you want at the various stops--typically 3 hours a day,  In the sun, next to the Mediterranean.  With all that great French food and wine.  What could be better?  There are two hikes in September that have openings, if any of you are interested.  I can highly recommend Carlo as a wonderful and entertaining guide and host.

I hope to go next fall and if there are any of you who would like to go with me then, please let me know and we can make plans.  But do, please, check it out.  It is a memorable vacation.