Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rumors on the Brain Tumors

I think I avoid posting to my cancer blog when there’s not great news to report. I'll just get right to it.

Two weeks ago, my latest brain MRI stunned my docs (and me) showing that 3 out of 4 of my brain tumors have grown – doubled or more in size. The sizes of the tumors are larger than they were a year ago, when first discovered. The swelling around them has increased as well. This is not a typical response after the successful radiation surgery last Fall, when the tumors shrank, and the last several MRI scans until two weeks ago indicated all was dormant.

Now I am back on steroids to shrink the swelling around the tumors, reducing the risk of seizures and other physical effects that are bad (i.e. balance, nausea, headaches, motor skills, etc.). Oddly enough, just like last year, I have experienced no symptoms or indications that my brain tumors are there. They are just pictures on the MRI scan as pointed out to me by my radiologist, Dr. Bajaj.

I have started a course of oral chemo called Tykerb. It’s one of the meds that may be able to cross the blood brain barrier and shrink the tumors. Along with Tykerb, I need to get my Herceptin injection every week now (instead of every three weeks) as a 1-2 punch. Tykerb has a few main side effects – diarrhea and skin irritation on the hands and feet. I usually do not experience side effects from Herceptin, other than occasional tiredness.  Being on steroids is always fun – keeping me up at night, bloating, acne, the appetite – it’s me taking some Ambien for sleep that keeps me going.

I try to remain positive, despite the fact that the worse place for cancer is the brain AND the fact that I cannot get any more radiation there (too much medical mumbo jumbo as to why). My future course of action will be determined after my next MRI in late July. Until then – I take my meds, get up every morning, go to work and basically try to keep my life as normal as possible. Oh yeah – one thing – I can’t travel and I can’t DRIVE until these tumors and swelling reduce. That, my friends, is probably my number one complaint about this diagnosis.

It’s not all that bad. Like I mentioned – other than the annoying side effects from meds – I feel pretty good. I am able to work full time. My hair is growing back and I no longer wear scarves. I have a good appetite (too good) and I stay super-busy with the family and weekend activities. Erin and Grace are home for the summer, they have awesome part time jobs that are close to our house and between Erin and my incredibly wonderful parents – I have a ride to and from work every day.

So that’s the news. I will try to post blog updates of anything major that changes, including my next MRI results. Until then, your kind words, prayers, positive vibes are always welcome and appreciated.  

I am sick of this disease yet  I will continue to fight it because I love my life and want to be around for as long as possible. That’s the word, nerds!

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