Survived Another Scan Day
Ana had her first CT scan since January today and I’m happy to report that she’s (mostly) stable! I was incredibly worried because she’d been getting monthly scans since last June (first PET scans, then CT scans) all the way through January of this year.
Three whole months without a scan feels like an impossibly long time. How insane is that? I can barely remember a time when scans weren’t a part of our lives. But anyway, I was afraid of the absolute worst. So we all went in today – we even took Emily. The girls were very silly. They’ve discovered a new app that superimposes their faces onto an avatar in a realistic way that they find hysterically funny. I was sure we would be punished for this joy, that the universe would disapprove of the girls’ happiness and want to put us in our place. (did I mention I was very anxious?)
Ana got her scan at around noon, we inhaled lunch and made it to her 1:00 p.m. appointment with Dr. Yamashiro about fifteen minutes early. He popped in to say hello then ran to Radiology to review her scan. We then waited an EXCRUCIATING hour and half for him to return and call us into his office. Even Ana was getting nervous at the long wait. She said, “What do you think he’s seeing? It has to be bad, right?” Jim and I assured her that he was probably having lunch…I felt like I was going to pass out from anxiety…but then he showed up and he was smiling. HE WAS SMILING! (Dr. Yamashiro has absolutely no game face).
So here is what’s going on. Ana is stable for the most part. The good news first: The large lung tumor that was radiated last month looked about 3 or 4 mm smaller and it was also calcified in the center. Calcification basically means that the live tumor cells have died and formed calcium deposits. Okay, I’m not sure if I’m getting that right exactly but calcification in a tumor is a good thing. All the other lung tumors that had been visualized in the last scan looked stable which was good news in that they didn’t grow, but a bit disappointing because we’d hoped that the Votrient was maybe, possibly shrinking them. But I’ll take stable over “progression” any day. Ana’s largest tumor may shrink some more, and the smaller ones may have a reaction to either the radiation or the Votrient. So, it’s possible that the next scan could offer even better news.
There was a little bit of bad news that didn’t seem to overly worry Dr. Yamashiro. Ana has another larger lung tumor (over 1 cm) which got a few millimeters bigger. He’s going to follow up with Dr. Connolly (the radiation oncologist) to see if it’s possible to use stereotactic radiation on this tumor if it continues to grow. Ana also has a questionable mass in her liver which may be a tumor, but it also may be something else (Dr. Y. mentioned that this part of her liver could lack full blood supply and could be something else (dead tissue?) It’s at the very tip of her liver and the vast majority of her liver looks beautiful (he showed us the scan). He said he would follow-up with Dr. Martinez (her hepatologist) and get her opinion.
And…she has some kind of nodule in her abdomen that was seen on her last scan and got a bit larger, but he doesn’t know if this is a tumor. He said it didn’t “light up” on the last PET scan, meaning there was no metabolic activity indicative of cell growth – yet it grew – so we’re just going to continue to watch it.
Here’s where we’re at as of now – Ana’s cancer seems to be very slow growing and is definitely responding to some of the treatments we’re throwing at it. The combination of treatment responsiveness and slow growing cancer means she’s stable, and actually doing quite well. I don’t want to lull myself into a false sense of security here because this beast has surprised us before, but for now I’m letting myself relax. She’ll have another scan in July and we can begin this cycle of worry all over again at that time. But you know what three months of stability means for Ana?
It means she gets to perform in the Paul Green Rock Academy “Best Of” show in May.
It means she gets to go to her very last middle school dance.
It means she gets to turn fourteen.
It means she gets to enjoy the first half of summer (although heavily sunscreened and covered up because she is VERY susceptible to skin cancer due to her meds).
It means more stolen moments. Give them to me. I want them all!
It means more wishes! Well, at least three more. She’s going to see the Black Keys play at Mountain Jam in June. We’ll also do the trip to Cape Code and the shopping spree in Soho over the next few months. I don’t know if we can manage a trip to England though. Maybe for fall? She wants a bike for her birthday. Did I mention that? I’m going to buy this kid a bike.
Thanks to all who have lent us their love, prayers, positive energy and support today. I don’t think I could’ve survived the day without the constant stream of well wishes.