There are, however, negatives to less frequent scanning. As confident as I want to be in the ability of my targeted chemotherapy to continue to keep my cancer suppressed, whenever I feel the least bit of pain, I worry that my medication has stopped working and my disease is foaming again. So, although the general plan is to have CT scans every 6 months, I've had to have mid-interval scans, here and there, in response to a bout of pain - usually in my upper right abdomen.
Last week I had CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis, (with and without contrast.) The results indicate that my disease continues to be stable, despite my concerns of right-sided pain - that comes and goes. My blood tumor markers also returned within normal limits. I was genuinely surprised and oh so relieved.
My brain MRI is another story, of sorts...
Late last month I had a routine follow-up brain MRI. (I find it funny that anyone can call any brain MRI "routine".) I get brain MRIs every 6 months because my targeted chemotherapy, Xalkori, doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier, so even if it is working well to control my disease below my neck, my brain remains vulnerable.
Well, this time, the neuroradiologist reported that there is a small "non-specific rounded focus" in an area of my brain called the corpus callosum. It wasn't there 6 months ago. The neuroradiologist wasn't able to characterize exactly what it is at this point, but it may be a little tumor or an area of demyelination...or nothing. The recommendation is to have another brain MRI in 6-8 weeks to see if the lesion is still there, and if so, is it bigger and can it be better characterized. I'm scheduled for another MRI in February. I, of course, have communicated with my oncologist and the ROS1 lung cancer specialist in Denver about this. Everyone agrees that a follow-up brain MRI is the next step. I've had to find my peace with the second part of their recommendation, which is: "...and just wait to see what happens."
There's nothing for me to do while waiting, so I'm doing my usual, and having knee surgery next week. (More on that in my next blog post.)
In the meantime, I feel like the guy in the middle. He looks, to me, like he's trying to keep a stiff upper lip while waiting to see what his fate will be.
Wish me luck!