An Unexpected Reprieve
I’m just going to blurt this out right up front. Ana had a follow-up CT scan at Columbia today and Dr. Yamashiro said that the largest tumor in her lungs appears to have shrunk slightly!
I’ve been dreading this scan and this day because my mind kept drifting to the worst case scenario. And why shouldn’t it? So when Dr. Yamashiro told us, I just stood there blinking stupidly for a few seconds and finally said…”are you sure?” He said he’s pretty sure. He spent a lot of time comparing the tumor from the PET scan with today’s CT scan and he believes it shrunk about 1 mm (which may as well be a mile for what this means to me). The other masses are still very tiny and looked unchanged (but I think they’re just so tiny that it’s hard for them to really know).
So — GREAT BIG EXHALE.
We don’t have a follow-up appointment yet, but this does give Dr. Yamashiro more time to get her results back and continue to work with the team at Columbia to figure out next steps. If it’s the Celebrex that’s causing the tumor to shrink, then this is a very good sign because she really only started it a month ago and even Dr. Martinez didn’t expect much of a response yet. She’d initially told us (last month) that she was hoping the Celebrex would stop the tumor growth, but that we shouldn’t expect much more than that (Dr. Yamashiro said this is what he’d expected as well).
What an amazing gift this is — to surprise the experts with good news. Dr. Yamashiro was actually smiling when he came into the room to talk to us. Ana will go back for another scan in four to eight weeks. Meanwhile, they’re still waiting for all the genomic sequencing of the tumor to come back and we may get some of the first results from that in a few days. Dr. Yamashiro explained that the Celebrex may help resolve the smallest tumors (if the IMT is, indeed, responding to this drug) but she may eventually need the largest lung nodule removed. Luckily the surgeon feels this nodule will be fairly easy to get to (still not super excited about more surgery for this kid).
If I don’t sound like I’m head over heels happy it’s because I’m terrified to be too optimistic. Honestly, I’m a superstitious wreck right now. I feel like cancer is a sentient thing. If I get too cocky, it will creep back out from behind the dark corners of my child’s body (where it lies microscopically hidden) and cast its shadow over her life again. Ana’s tumor, in particular, is such a complete unknown. It keeps turning left when everyone expects it to turn right. My head is filled with a tangle of what-if scenarios that are quite literally haunting my dreams.
So while I’m letting myself exhale – it’s with shaky, uncertain breaths. Still, we’ve been given a gift (I know I’m repeating myself). We have another month (or two) where Ana can go back to being a normal kid.
She’s growing like a weed, by the way. She’s now my height (5’1″) which we discovered when they measured her today. The nurse even measured me just to be sure (because Ana was so clearly overjoyed to have finally caught up with me). I’m certain it’s only a matter of time before she’s officially taller than me.