One week ago today, we got the results from our latest PET scan. The esophageal tumor was about the same as it was when I had my last endoscopy in May (which was smaller than it had been originally), but the cancer in the liver and lymph nodes had progressed. This was certainly not the news we had hoped for. My oncologist outlined several plans of possible treatment, including a second round of chemo, the possibility of clinical trials at MD Anderson in Houston, or just stopping treatment completely and being put on supportive care and eventually, hospice.
I get that he had to mention the supportive care and hospice, because technically it is an option, but it seemed to be pushing me closer and closer off this mortal coil. Robert and I were wrecks on Wednesday and I alternated between being morose and having crying jags. Robert did the same. Ultimately, we held each other and tried our best to comfort each other. I felt like I was starting to mourn for myself already. At one point – early in my diagnosis – I thought that if I had to go on hospice care that I’d like to do it at home and spend my final days in our guest room. I had pushed those thoughts out of my mind, but last Wednesday’s bombshell brought it all back.
And then, I called my wonderful parents. They were with us at the oncologist, but they didn’t go back there with us. I wanted to see how they were doing. Mom sounded fine and she said that she was going to remain positive and that we were going to fight this. We weren’t going to give up; we were going to do whatever we had to do to survive. That was exactly what I needed to hear. It gave me courage and strength.
I think Robert and I have rounded a curve in dealing with the news. We’re both bearing up and being positive. It helps that I generally feel good. I’ve been off chemo for about two weeks and outside of some swallowing issues, I feel okay. The swallowing issues worry me, but as long as I’m careful what and how I eat, I’m still able to get food and drink down.
And the chemo starts again on July 15th. My routine is now Ramucirumab (Cyramza) and Paclitaxel (Taxol). My chemo cycles will be 4 weeks: week 1 with both drugs, weeks 2-3 with just Taxol, and week 4 is no chemo. Cyramza is fairly new; it was approved by the FDA in 2014, but Taxol has been around for some time. Cyramza – from what I understand – is supposed to attack the blood vessels that feed tumors. According to the Cyramza website, the infusion time for both medications should be about two hours. We’ll see what happens.
Even so, I’m still very lucky. I work in an environment of support and understanding. My husband is a rock, and so are my parents and family. I also have the support of many friends, some of whom are completely virtual and whom I may never meet.