I had a good visit with the cancer doc yesterday afternoon. It was actually the most encouraging visit we have had in the 7 1/2 years we've been at this. There are three pieces of good news:
- From the blood work done last week, the cancer-indicating M-spike dropped from 3.1 to 2.8, a 10% decrease. Add to that, it was over a one month period instead of the normal two.
- I had a PET scan last week because the cancer had been rising rapidly and we needed to ascertain the risk in delaying chemotherapy for reasons discussed below. The result of the PET scan was that it yielded no evidence of active cancer. That doesn't mean that the cancer isn't there, just that it isn't raging out of control, and that is good news.
- The third piece of good news actually happened when I went to see the doctor last month, when the doctor used a phrase that no doctor has used with me in the past 7 1/2 years. He said "long term treatment." No doctor had said that before.
An excerpt from an email I received this week from my cancer doc at Mayo, who is also the head of the hematology department there, said "Ten years ago the probability of being alive at 3 years (after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma) was only about 30-40% while now it is closer to 90%." She went on to report that many patients are now surviving into the 15-20 year range. By God's grace, I hope to be one of them, and have a nice number years left in comparatively good quality health.
For now, I will stay off of chemotherapy, and get things checked again in two months (June). Docs in Texas and at Mayo are hoping I can stay off of chemo until the next round of new cancer drugs become available, something called "monoclonal antibodies." They are supposed to be effective at fighting the cancer, without some of the bad and permanent side effects of the last cancer drug I was on.
Thanks for the prayers, friendship and concern.