Well, today I took my mother to the Cancer Center and we received the results of the PET scan done on Friday. The Physician’s Assistant explained that there was “activity” in several spots: L-1, L-2, T-11 and 12, a couple of ribs. I asked what “activity” meant, but didn’t really get an answer, other than that it is different from “metastatic disease,” of which there was no sign in the last PET scan… but in this one there was “activity.” So I asked what exactly was being active, but still didn’t get an answer, only that there were spots. One of them could be the compression fracture my mother had in December. Or … cancer, maybe? The PA didn’t say that, didn’t really say anything and went off to get the doctor.
A few minutes later, Dr. Schwartz arrived and said the tests looked good, but there were those spots of “activity”. My mother asked what good was the test if it didn’t tell them anything. He said it was the best they had. The only other option was to cut her open and start doing biopsies. Did she want that?
Anyway, bone cancer is notoriously hard to … distinguish? diagnose? handle? treat? cure? I can’t recall exactly. Probably all of those. He said her tests were good enough he was sure the disease was not currently ravaging her body, but he wanted her to continue with her treatment for two more four-week cycles. That is, we go in on Monday, she gets her blood taken, meets with the doctor of PA, gets her chemo treatment, which when she gets both drugs involves a bag of anti-nausea medication, a bag of chemo drug #1, a bag of chemo drug #2 and a saline solution to flush every last bit of the [very expensive] chemo drug #2 out of the tubing and into her vein. In the first treatment of the cycle she also gets a bag of bone-strengthening medication. All this takes anywhere from an hour to three hours, during which time I sometimes leave and come back when she’s done. After that we go in Tues-Thursday for leukocyte-stimulating shots. After three weeks of that she gets the fourth week off, then we start again. When the two cycles are done, she’ll have another test. I don’t know if it’ll be another PET or an MRI.
I think we were both a bit surprised at the developments today, even though now, as I think back, I do recall Dr. Schwartz saying that Mother would have four cycles of treatment and then they’d do a test to see where she was. He didn’t actually say she’d do four cycles and that would be the end. I guess I thought with all the chemo it didn’t seem likely the cancer would be growing again. I’d have thought she’d have to stop treatment for a while and then it would start again. Apparently not — though I have to remind myself that no one has actually come out and said that the “spots” and “activity” are cancer.
So. We go on. One day at a time.