Monday, January 16, 2017

CT Scans #12, Brain MRI

     Since being diagnosed with cancer, (over 4 years ago), I've had follow-up CT scans and brain MRIs on a regular schedule.  Initially, the CT scans were every 3 months.  Overtime, as we (my oncologist and I) gained confidence in my targeted chemotherapy's ability to control my cancer, we extended the time interval between scans. At first I was able to talk my oncologist into spacing scans 4 months apart, and eventually to every 6 months.  Managing cancer means being exposed to agents I hadn't had in the past - chemicals, radiation, radioactive materials, and magnetic fields.  There's no way around it.  So, I really appreciate being exposed to 50% less radiation with CT scans every 6 months instead of every 3.  

     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!




11 comments:

Wanwan said...

I DO wish you luck,Luna, and sending "beams" of positive rays your way!

Heather @ chiknpastry said...

Always cheering you on Luna! I love the sandwich face ;).

Xoxo

Lars Erickson said...

Hang int there. Hope it's nothing....maybe some kind of natural anomaly. Your bravery makes me thankful for my easy life.

Ellen said...

Always thinking of you Luna, keep going with your amazing positive approach to all of this.

Daniela McMullin said...

Luna I wish you all the luck I pray for you every day!! You are strong and is amazing to me how positive approach you take and all of this. Also I know I am sure you have your not so good days but you keep pushing thru more or less because your family which is one of the main reasons we all fight. Love you Luna.

Anonymous said...

Pax-Persevere-Prayer!
Lovin' the sandwiches!

Shelly ET

Anonymous said...

After being diagnosed with NSCLC this past August, I stumbled upon our blog while looking up information on Xalkori. I have the ALK mutation, was a life long NON smoker, very active, and like yourself quite confused/disgusted by the entire situation.
Reading your blogs have given me hope- I admire your positive outlook and try, on a daily basis to find something positive to write in my journal.
I wish you continued success in your battle and know you will come through with flying colors!!

Anonymous said...

Luna, what a surprise. I mean, I knew there was a possibility that an abonormality could show up. I firmly believe that things happen in our bodies all the time. Usually people don't even know about it. Because of your history, the doctors must check you body frequently. I believe that this "non-specific rounded focus" will turn out to be inconsequential. Please remain hopeful. However you will have pain after the knee surgery!!!!
Prayers to you always....

Merle Jacobs said...

I hope this non-specific rounded focus is something that most of us in our 50's inevitably come to get, and because we are not routinely scanned we don't know just how common it is. Thinking of you with love, Luna, and always cheering you on with good energy and prayers from Boston...

Lisa said...

That sandwich is funny! Better you look like that than the one on the right that looks like it's throwing up something green!
I get my follow up brain MRI for a small anomaly 2 mos ago, next week. So, I'm right by your side on this one.
xo
- Lisa

Kacey said...

It took us a long time to learn to "live" between scans. It's hard not to focus on what's coming, but I appreciate you still have your humor. It's a rough road to travel, but seeing the good spots in life along the way is so very important. Laughter, love and a positive outlook go a long way.

Kacey @ Glendale MRI