January 20th, 2009: At 7:30 a.m. this morning, I received word that Dr. O’Donnell was in emergency surgery and would not be able to keep our appointment today. However, I was able to verify clinic time with Dr. Jahan, and with this new schedule, I went off to Gaetano’s home to watch the inauguration events. So many highlights! Aretha Franklin’s hat as well as the dexterity and joy in her voice at the end of her singing. The quartet with Yo-Yo and Itzak Perlman who played pure Aaron Copeland. Sections of the inaugural address including the unexpected outreach to the Islamic world. Much, much.
Then, off to see Dr. Jahan at clinic. Eileen Lemus and I asked about the results of the CT and MRI scans. Good news: first, the liver “spot” has been taken off the table as a significant health risk. It is most likely a cyst and not related to the cancer. The spots on the lungs have shrunk, although they are still present. Most significantly, the main tumor site has shrunk from its most expansive growth. The chemo is working. The operative words are: moderate decrease. Also, there is no trace of new growth into new directions or tissue areas.
The big decision about what to do next will happen on Friday in the meeting with Dr. Kirsten Greene. She will decide from the scans if the primary tumor is ready to be excised or if there should be another round of chemo. It’s true that I complain about chemo and its follow-up symptoms. With good reason! However, it’s also true that I have a deep rebounding strength from these sessions and within a few days, I am functional. In order to not set my expectations too high, Dr. Jahan said that I might well be scheduled for a fourth round of infusions before the surgery happens. Again, that will shake down in the meeting with Dr. Greene on Friday.
In honesty, I had a moment of disappointment. There’s an impatient part of me that wanted to hear Dr. Jahan say, “You’ve done such a fabulous job with the chemo and we can go right in and remove a bit of residual tumor.” That was a fantasy, and he did not say those words. Instead, I received a solid report that the chemo is effective and that going forward will happen either with surgery or with chemo #4 followed by surgery. I am grateful for what is.