Thursday, September 12, 2013

Good News, Bad News: Another Medical Update

     I went to my oncologist on September 5, 2013 and got the results of the PET Scan. I’ll list the bad news first, so we can finish on a positive note with the good news.
     Bad news: The scan showed an infiltrate, an infection, in my right lung. That’s what the pulmonologist called “haziness” on the x-ray. Good news: It is something treatable! Yea, God! The doctor gave me antibiotics and the medicine is breaking up the phlegm so I can cough it up.
     Bad News: There is increased metabolic activity in the tumor in the left lung and in the left pleural cavity around the lung. Good news: There is no metastatic activity anywhere else in the body – not in the right lung, abdominal organs, skeleton, or brain! Yea, God! God already bound the cancer cells in the pleura by turning the fluid to gel so it cannot flow around my lung and seed new tumors. He will bind the other malignant cells, too, because with God all things are possible!
     Bad news: All of a sudden I started to retain fluid; I gained twenty pounds in three weeks. This is one of the adverse effects of the chemotherapy drug Alimta. This also causes shortness of breath, as the fluid in the abdomen presses against the heart and lungs. Good news: The doctor doubled the dosage of my diuretic.
     Bad news: I still have shortness of breath and my lung volume has gone down from 1250 to 1000cc on my incentive spirameter. Good news: My arterial oxygen blood levels are within normal, well above 90%.
     Bad news: My endurance is down; I could only walk for 15 minutes on the treadmill at two miles an hour. I used to walk 1.5 miles in thirty minutes at a speed of three miles per hour. Good news: I walked half a mile in that 15 minutes! And I kept my oxygen level above 90% by using my special pursed-lip breathing exercises!
     Bad news: My CEA tumor markers and Alkaline Phosphatase (AP) levels have been going up consistently since May. Good news: They actually went down this time! The CEA went from 55 to 45.5 and the AP went from 171 to 160! Yea, God! There is power in prayer!
     Bad news: Because the CEA and AP have been rising, the doctor thinks my body has built up resistance to the Alimta. Good news: He is going to change the chemo drug. He has ordered tests on my original biopsy tissue from 2009 to determine which drug will work. Thank you, God for working through the doctors. I think it is amazing that they can retest original tissue that’s four years old! And they have so many new drugs now! Cancer treatment has advanced so far in twenty years!
     Bad News: I became eligible for Medicare on September 1, 2013. I had checked with all my doctors to make sure they accepted Medicare, but I did not realize that Medicare would be my primary insurance! I could not receive my chemotherapy because they now have to obtain approval from Medicare to administer it! Grrr! Did I make a mistake in accepting Medicare? I envisioned it taking several weeks to get what we need! Good news: Within three working days, the clinic had Medicare’s approval!!!! Yea, God!
     Bad news: I found out it is common for a chemotherapy drug to stop being effective in killing cancer cells. The doctor told me, “You have outlasted the advertised life of this drug. Usually it stops working after 18 months.” Good news: It worked for me for 28 months! Almost a full year extra! Yea, God! And that, my friends and prayer partners, I owe to YOU! Thank you so much for being so supportive of me and proving once again that prayer works!
     I have many specific prayer requests now. Please pray that the pneumonia and fluid retention will clear up and my breathing will improve. Also pray that the doctors will find the right chemotherapy drug for me, and Medicare will approve it quickly.

     With all of my good news, it’s time to celebrate by showing pictures of butterflies in my garden. Butterflies symbolize change, and there are certainly changes in my life right now. To me they also stand for freedom because they can fly anywhere they want to go. The monarch butterflies are more cooperative than the yellow butterflies when it comes to posing for pictures.
In the center of these flowers is a Monarch butterfly

Close-up of Monarch butterfly

Another close-up

Just left of center is a yellow butterfly
 among the purple Mexican petunias

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