After meeting with my doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center today, I am happy to report that my second appendiceal adenocarcinoma tumor has shrunk by over 50%!!! Both my medical oncologist (Dr. Michael Overman) and surgical oncologist (Dr. Paul Mansfield) were extremely pleased with the tumor’s response to the chemo. I’m only at the half-way point in my 16-week FOLFOX/Erbitux chemo regimen so to have the tumor shrink by that much is fantastic! But I’m not out of the woods yet.
The current plan is to finish up the next 8 weeks of the FOLFOX/Erbitux chemo. Then Dr. Mansfield will do investigative laparoscopic surgery in early September to see what things the remaining tumor is stuck to and to have a general look around. Since we are dealing with a serious and very aggressive cancer, Dr. Mansfield wants to test the tumor’s ability to regrow. I would go off chemo for about four weeks to see if the remaining tumor grows back very quickly again or if it does nothing.
If the tumor does not start growing again within those four weeks, then I will have full-blown surgery to clean-out any remains of the tumor. After this surgery, I would be placed on a different chemo regimen for a while to make sure it’s gone. (Can’t do FOLFOX chemo again after that point due to the neuropathy developing in my hands and feet.)
If the tumor does start growing back within those four weeks, Dr. Mansfield will not do surgery to clean-out the tumor as there will be no point in opening me up to just have it keep growing back. I would receive a different chemo regimen and then probably have maintenance chemo (milder, less often) indefinitely. Dr. Mansfield explained that in this situation, they would not be looking for a cure but would use the maintenance chemo to keep the cancer at bay. He used Magic Johnson as an analogy. Magic’s HIV is not cured but he is still here 20 yrs down the line.
Of course, the options outlined here could change dramatically if I have any other tumors show up elsewhere or if anything else changes. I just have to take all of this day-by-day and do the best that I can to take care of myself and my family.
The take away from all this:
- I’m extremely happy for the progress made so far. Chemo is my friend.
- I just have to wait and see what the results are after the laparoscopic surgery in early September and the following month with no chemo.
Your prayers, good vibes, meals, visits, general help, notes of encouragement any anything else coming my way are all doing their job. Thank you, thank you!