So I know that I just posted but I wanted to give everyone an update on what my scan results are and what my course of action is going to be. Let me just say that it was neither good nor bad.
When they do a PET scan they measure how much your cancer lights up and where it is. They can also see other problems in your body. I will try to explain this the best I can but it is even confusing to me at times. When I last had my PET scan in June, the cancer in my bones showed it was active and lit up at 6.7. This time around it lit up at 2.8. This means that the chemo is working and the cancer isn’t as active. That would be the good news part of the scan. The bad news part of the scan is that my liver is still very damaged! Apparently the Abraxane (the chemo I was on) is filtered through my liver. This caused my liver to sustain more damage and it has been unable to repair itself. The chemo was too toxic to my liver so for right now I have to stop the Abraxane. So what does all this mean I can hear you ask. It actually means several things.
1. My doctor isn’t comfortable with placing me on just a hormone treatment quite yet because she feels that it will be a repeat of what happened after Gemzar (the chemo I was on last time). She has compared the scan results to the scan results I had after the Gemzar and they are very similar right now. She feels that we should get my bones to completely stable before we try the hormone. I agree, and I have always said I want to be very aggressive. While the 6 or 7 months of just hormone treatment would be great I really don’t want the cancer to come back that soon. I think this will give me more time off chemo if I get my bones clear.
2. I can no longer do the Abraxane because it would damage my liver too much. The plan is to switch to a different chemo. We have decided to try an oral chemo called Xeloda. This is a pretty easy chemo as well and it is in pill form. I will take the pill for 14 days and then take 7 days off which is considered one cycle. From what I have read the side effects are stomach issues, dry and itchy skin, and hand-and-foot syndrome. Overall people say this is a pretty tolerable drug. The nice thing is that it doesn’t cause hair loss so hopefully I can start to regrow my hair.
3. My doctor is also sending me to a Gastroenterologist. He will work on getting my liver functions back to normal through diet and medications.
I have read lots of great things about the Xeloda with some patients still on it after 3 years and it is keeping them stable with very little side effects. The nice thing is that I now know that Abraxane and Gemzar both work for me. This just means that I can put those two in my back pocket for later use if I need to. There are also several other chemos that are “easier” chemos that I still haven’t tried so I can always turn to those in the future. Of course there are the very hard chemos too that I could use if I had to. My doctor also said that there are some very exciting clinical trials going on right now as well.
Overall I am very happy with the decision we made and I think this will give my body more of a fighting chance to remain cancer free for a longer period of time. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed that my scans weren’t clear but right now I have to focus on getting my liver back to normal and go from there.