Just when you think you’re on top of things, cancer has a way of bringing you back to reality. It’s a crafty bugger, and is definitely teaching me to not celebrate too early.
You may remember my jubilant post about the good news we received following my mid-way PET-CT scan. Turns out things may not be so clear cut as we were first led to believe.
Don’t get me wrong, the news is still great. I’m not about to tell you that they accidentally swapped my scan for someone else’s, or that actually the skeleton you could see in my scan was just one big cast of lymphoma that had replaced all my bones. Nothing like that.
The problem, in the words of my oncologist, is that “due to interference on the scan some of our diagnosis is professional gut instinct“.
See, at the time of my last scan I was yet again in hospital with the gift that keeps on giving; neutropenic sepsis. Part of the treatment for that included extending my regime of G-CSF injections (which, to be fair, are an absolute miracle in terms of bringing my blood counts back up from dangerously low levels). That wouldn’t normally be an issue, but because the injections send my bone marrow into overdrive in producing neutrophils and other blood goodies, and because the PET-CT scan works by ‘lighting up’ quick-growing cells such as cancer, there was somewhat of an overlap.
This means that the oncologists and radiologists who looked at my scan couldn’t say for certain that what they were looking at was G-CSF activity and not cancer. Boo.
Of course, the first thing I asked after hearing all of this was “well, can’t you just scan me again now that I’m not on G-CSF injections?”, but sadly it was a no-go as they don’t want to expose me to the radioactive dye regularly lest I get…cancer. Hah.
Still, my oncologist was positive and upbeat about it – in his professional opinion the scan does show good news.
Somehow it’s not enough for me though. I feel like I could handle the news either way a lot better if I just had certainty. There’s so much ‘unknown’ whilst battling cancer as it is, and I’m so much of a control freak that not having something solid on which to base my decisions and next steps is infuriating.
I mentioned before, I think, that there was a possibility of my changing chemo routines (to ABVD, which is more gentle than the BEACOPP Esc I’m currently on) if the scan was good. However, with the uncertainty of the scan and a few other elements (including that swapping regimes would involve exposing me to two times as much awful Bleomycin over four rounds instead of two) we decided to stick with BEACOPP Esc.
It’s a bugger of a regime, Escalated BEACOPP, but I seem to be faring quite well. Side effects have generally been quite forgiving and manageable; hair loss, nausea, dizziness, peripheral neuropathy, a rash, fatigue and, of course, my like-clockwork neutropenic sepsis. Considering I’m voluntarily being pumped full of poison I don’t think I’m doing too badly.
Off for Day 8, Round 3 of infusions today, wish me luck!