So, if a picture can be worth a thousand words, I hope that a blog post can transform itself in the same way.
My doctor called Monday with my results from Thursday’s CT Scan of my chest. The results were excellent. Both of the spots in my lung shrunk by an additional 1 mm each — they are each less than a centimeter now. My liver remains stable. And there’s nothing new to be seen, except…
And this is the part that took my breath away. My doctor said the radiologist had seen something in my thoracic spine. As much studying and reading as I’ve done in recent months, all I heard her say was “spine,” and the phone might as well have slid out of my hand and hit the floor with a thud. Thoracic spine is the term for the 12 thoracic (chest) bones.
I immediately thought “spine” and thought she was telling me that they were seeing a new growth in my spine. My mind was off and running — OMG, it’s over! I’ve got cancer in my spine! Not the case. Thank God.
What she was saying is that the area in my collar bone, which had been identified on the PET Scan way back when all of this began in January, was now bigger. More panic, though she very quickly clarified.
When you go to the ER because you think you have fractured a bone, an XRay may not tell the whole story — at least, not right away. If it’s a hairline fracture, it may not show up at all initially. But, two weeks later, as that bone begins to heal, it may indeed show up on an XRay.
Same goes for the small spot seen in my collarbone so many months ago. As a bone heals, it becomes more dense and may then show up on imaging when it previously did not. So, though that spot on my bone has never been confirmed via biopsy as a breast cancer metastasis to my collar bone, my doctors suspected it was. And now, after all this time, it looks like it is healing!
Whew! That was a long way for my mind to wind and bend and curve to absorb what she was saying, and that it was indeed good news.
Nothing else showed up on my CT Scan to indicate why I was having such severe pain on my right side last Thursday. That pain has lessened quite a bit and the potentially serious issues — like a blood clot in my lung or an infection in my port — have been ruled out. It could be something as simple as a pulled muscle. Even so, the doctor would like some additional imaging, perhaps a repeat PET Scan. Just for another look.
That’s the report from last Thursday.
Friday, as you know, we drove down to Indianpolis to see Dr. Waldo, a biochemist, M.D., and Ph.D., whose philosophy is very much parallel to that of Dr. Serban-Schreiber, whom I’ve mentioned numerous times in this blog as the author of Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life.
Don and I spent two full hours with Dr. Waldo, who went over every system in my body with us, using the results of dozens of tubes of blood he’d ordered drawn from me in labs in August and September. With this data, he is able to examine my body at the cellular level.
The best way I can explain what he told us (I felt a lot like I was back sitting in chemistry class) is to say that he went through my body, system by system, and showed us how we are really made up of dozens of what I’ll call “gears” — like a clock if you were to open it up and look inside. When they’re not functioning properly, these gears may be running counterclockwise, when they should be moving clockwise. Or, perhaps the teeth on a gear in one body system are bent, or broken off, or otherwise not operating correctly. Or, there’s a log-jam of sorts between two gears, so that the good stuff the first gear is carrying (let’s say Iron, or Serotonin), is not reaching — and therefore, not being absorbed by, the second gear, where it is in desperate need.
When this happens — and it does in all of us — it can make our bodies susceptible to all kinds of maladies, from the annoying (sinus), to the life-threatening (cancer). Dr. Waldo not only showed us which systems aren’t operating properly in me, but also explained the chemicals in my body — either the over or underabundance of — that were causing these issues. Then, he explained how we would go about fixing these issues, one system at a time, starting with my gut. That’s the area where problems start for most people.
So, though I feel I’m oversimplifying a bit, I can’t possibly explain in one blog all that he said. But I can, and I think I did, give you a good overview. And, as the weeks pass and I begin to follow the program he’s outlined for me, I will continue to share it with you.
Dr. Waldo said the toughest part is going to be the next 8 weeks, when I will be on a very strict eating plan and a course of various supplements. If I want this to work, I’ve got to stay on that eating plan. No cheating. None. Because just a day “off the wagon” returns me to ground zero and I have to start all over again.
That said, when he sees me again in late December, he expects I will have made some pretty significant progress. He’s seen it before in his other cancer patients, some of them with the BRCA 1 gene. There are, of course, never any guarantees. But I believe — as does he — that the combination of continued chemotherapy (he smiled from ear to ear when we were discussing the PARP Inhibitor that I am on — he is so pleased about this and strongly believes in its efficacy with gene-related breast cancers) along with his diet and supplement program, will reap great rewards. The goal is to deal with the current crisis, work with me, my body, and my doctors here in the Detroit area to get me into remission — and keep me there.
Does he believe I can conquer this and go on to live in remission for decades? He nodded an emphatic yes to this question. I believe it, too. And while I know there is no magic, no guarantees, no hocus-pocus, I do believe in God’s gift of free will. I’m exercising it to the fullest. And I believe God also gifts each and every one of us, as he has Dr. Waldo, in order that He may work through them to help us.
Indiana was all good news. We were so relieved, as we truly did not know what to expect and I was quite nervous on the drive down.
Once we left the doctor’s office, we breathed deeply of the fresh autumn air and took in the warmth of a sunny, late fall day. We spent the remainder of the weekend visiting the Indianapolis Children’s Museum — which just happens to have a special frog exhibit going on now through January (lucky Theo) — taking a walk through a very Spooky Forest, going for a boatride, and watching a local championship baseball game in which our friends’ son, Christopher, was playing.
Next on the agenda? As soon as I get the call from the dietician, who will outline the specifics of my food plan, I’m going to be eating like my life depends on it. Because I believe in large part, it does.
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson