Tuesday 13 October 2009

Not swimming, not drowning, just treading water...again....

We were fearing the worst (Leo grown), hoping for the best (Leo shrunk) but have ended up somewhere in the middle - the doctor says that give or take a few millimetres (larger or smaller, we know not) the tumour has not changed significantly in size.  She says this is good.  We are not so sure.  

After four cycles of treatment, we would have expected a clear sign of change to assess the effectiveness of the chemo; something to help us decide whether to continue with the last two cycles of the drug trial treatment or move on to the "standard" treatment. Whilst a "no change" outcome is miles better than the worst case scenario, the lack of any significant reduction in tumour size some two thirds of the way through the programme has planted the seeds of doubt as to whether the last three months have been a waste of time.....

Steve has the option to withdraw from the trial if/when he wants to. He didn't have to make that decision today - it was made for him: once again, one of the test results came back below the threshold specified in the drug trial protocol to proceed with chemo, so treatment is on hold for a week.  

The hospital dates on the calender and in the diaries have been rubbed out and the new regime has been pencilled in, although it remains to be seen whether test results will be satisfactory by next Tuesday - there was a two week gap between cycles the last time this happened, and on that occasion the test results were better than today's.  Once again, my work programme is out of sync with Steve's treatment, but it's too late now to make major changes...and anyway it could all change again next week.  

Still, the unexpected extra week's rest from hospital visits gives us time to sit back, take stock, do some thinking, write down the key questions we need to ask the doctor when we see her next week and maybe come to a view on how to go forward in the light of her answers.  

Perhaps we are overreacting to the "stable" result.  I'm sure that there are many others who would love to be in this position.  If the tumour isn't any bigger, then Steve isn't any worse.  In a cancer that can be aggressive, we should be thankful for that. Delaying treatment by a week or two would still allow the last cycle to be completed by the end of November/early December and hopefully give Steve a Christmas/New Year largely free of nausea and fatigue, which would be a good present. Always assuming that he decides to continue on the drug trial.  Time to pause for thought.

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