On Monday 17 October I rocked on up to the oncology clinic to hear what Dr S had to say about the CT scan I had last week. With my eldest son and ex-husband in tow, I asked the oncologist to show us the images so I could see where the cancer had spread to. A few days previous to this, I had logged into my patient portal and seen that the blood test result for the pancreatic cancer biomarker showed that it was on the way back up again. At the end of July it was 1810, and last week it was 2,600. So the CA 19-9 blood test result had already confirmed my strong suspicion of what was going on in my body – the cancer was growing and spreading.
The scan result wasn’t all doom and gloom. The tumour on my pancreas hadn’t got any bigger, but the cancer on my left ovary had. And the report stated that the cancer was still largely within the peritoneum “with a moderate amount of peritoneal fluid and increasing peritoneal nodularity” since the last scan in May. Lungs, adrenal glands, liver and bowel all fine. So not too bad, as it hasn’t spread too far.
Dr S. then offered me more chemotherapy, this time with a single drug – paclitaxel. We discussed why he thought this was a good option at some length. The unexpectedly effective response to PEXG I had – it kept the cancer stable – was a very good sign. It was after all responsible for my now being in the 20% of pancreatic cancer patients who are still alive after one year.
I am now in the process of making another very difficult decision. It would mean weekly visits to the chemo day stay ward, but the infusion would only take an hour or so, he said. It would not be an all-day experience like having PEXG. I would probably lose my hair again – so I face going back to wearing a wig. Sigh! The big question was my usual question – forget the averages, and give me a personal estimate of how long I have got if I decide not to have any more chemo (3 – 4 months) and if I do decide to give paclitaxel a go (6 months or more).
I mentioned the fact that the wound on the back of my neck had still not healed. Dr S. was suddenly very interested – he had not been in the least bit interested in my complaints about this at any of my previous visits. The reason was of course, that chemotherapy wouldn’t be an option if I had an unhealed wound. He asked to have a look at it. He did this and said he thought it was healing very nicely and wasn’t nearly as bad as he expected from my account. All very well for him to say as he is not the one having to have regular dressing changes. He said the wound was small enough not to be a problem as far as my trying another chemo drug is concerned.
I really would like another summer so I will probably give it a go. If I do go ahead I think I will undertake four chemo sessions and then review my decision.