Seems like it took forever to get Mrs. Charm to her goal line date with the high-dose chemo at M.D. Anderson for her recurring lymphoma. She was in pretty bad shape when we went back Wednesday, after she demanded the docs get moving. Chemo finally began sometime after midnight Thursday in her 15th floor hospital room. It’s expected to continue through Saturday night. The first round of three, that is, with two weeks recovery in between each one.
I’m planning to drive back Sunday morning to pick her up and bring her home the same day, hopefully before dark. U.S. Highway 290 between Austin and Houston is easy. It’s the Houston end that sucks. Driving in six lanes of freeway at 70 mph is hard enough in daylight. Dazzled by all the lights, and the other cars and trucks weaving in and out, it’s much harder at night. Plus my 71-year-old eyes can’t read the signs anymore until I’m almost on top of them. But after three weeks of back and forth frustration I’ve almost got the route memorized.
Mrs. Charm’s lymphoma cancer, which had been in remission since February, is back with a vengeance and her local docs are punting her to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
We’ll be leaving soon and living in a hotel there for the foreseeable future. So posting will be light, if at all. Hang in there, rare readers. Back when we can be.
UPDATE: We haven’t left yet. Earliest Mrs. C. is scheduled for now is the 13th for an evaluation. Her local doc was fairly frantic to get her in before that but, so far, no joy.
I can’t help wondering why she didn’t give us a local referral. M.D. Anderson ain’t magic, whatever the Saudi princes and South American dictators who go there think. Austin ain’t Podunk in cancer treatment. But I’m a follower this time.
It’s official. Mrs. C’s oncologist says her latest PET scan shows “no evidence” of the lymphoma cancer she was diagnosed with back in September. So chemo is over and she’s in remission.
The only (literally) dark spot is a reappearance of the “ghost” that first appeared back in December on a CT scan. Although now, with the finer resolution of the PET, the doc says it is not a mass as previously feared but apparently an inflammation of some sort. Mrs. C. is scheduled for a colonoscopy next week to try to be more precise.
For now there’s joy in Mudville. Mrs. C. got to ring the bell at Texas Oncology’s infusion center. It’s the signal for a cancer patient who has successfully completed chemotherapy. There were smiles all around. And plans for her to go back to work in a few weeks, probably for half days at first.
Mrs. Charm’s cancer treatments were going well until the other day when her latest scan found good news and bad. The good news: her lymphoma tumor load seems to have significantly decreased across the board just four doses into her eight-dose chemo regimen.
The bad: the scan showed there was a dark mass on her small intestine where it connects with the large one. It could be a hard tumor, possibly a sign of small intestine lymphoma which is not an unusual development in lymphoma cancers. Or, as her gastroenterologist said, because she has none of the expected symptoms of small intestine lymphoma, it could be a false reading and he could be chasing a ghost.
So this morning he made what Atul Gawande says in Complications, A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, is the hardest medical decision of all: to do nothing, not even a biopsy. Only to continue the chemo doses. And wait until the next scan six weeks from now, unless symptoms set in before then, to see if the mass is still there. And so there we are, still uncertain about what’s going on but still seeing progress and hoping for the best.