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I haven’t written on this page in a very long time so I will update my story from December when Billy posted that we had just learned about my recurrence. I had 5 radiation treatments to my skull and tolerated it pretty well. The radiation oncologist and I decided that the bone mets to my lumbar spine would continue to be monitored and we wouldn’t pursue radiation to that area since I had no pain, there were no neurological symptoms and there is a risk of compression fractures with radiation to the vertebrae. Thankfully, my headaches resolved after the radiation to the skull. When radiation was completed, I was put back on Gem/Ox. I have the ATM mutation and it seems to respond well to the platin drugs. I have completed 5 months of this cocktail. My latest scans show stability. There are still no lesions in the liver but the lung nodules remain present. The metastasis in the vertebrae seem to be improving. I went for a second opinion at MD Anderson with Dr. Javle in April and he agrees with my current course of treatment. He agrees with my MSKCC oncologist that immunotherapy is not recommended due to my UC and PSC and it would be too dangerous to risk infection if I were to have a flair-up of those diseases. There may be a possibility in the future of incorporating abraxane to my chemotherapy drugs. Has anyone had trouble getting abraxane covered by their insurance? I have my next set of scans for the entire spine to monitor any progression of the mets to my spine at the end of June, thankfully I have no pain.
I am approaching the two year anniversary of my diagnosis and thought I would post an update on my current status. (background info: diagnosed 9/2016, five months of chemo Gem/cis, liver resection, two months chemo Gem/ox, five weeks radiation) This past July, I had another round of scans. Abdominal and pelvic MRI as well as chest CT. I am happy to report that I continue to have no lesions, lymphadenopathy or ascites. The mild intrahepatic stricturing and dilation that is associated with my underlying PSC is unchanged from February. I see a hepatologist every six months and she says I am doing great. My oncologist still sees me for labs every three months and “just to see my face”. My next set of scans is scheduled for the end of November with my surgeon. I will probably continue with this schedule of appointments for a while. For now I feel good and continue to count my blessings while keeping everyone with this disease in my prayers.
Well… 3/23/18 marked my one year “surgiversary” . I had my latest abdominal MRI on 2/28/18 and it continues to show no signs of cancer. My PSC has gotten a little worse though, as seen by mild intrahepatic structuring and dilation as well as generalized inflammation of the liver that was not seen in my MRI three months ago. My Ca-19 has been relatively stable but my liver enzyme labs have increased. My GI put me on Ursodiol because I have been feeling “itchy” for over a month now. My bilirubin values are still in the normal range. This past MRI was only of the abdomen with another scan scheduled in four months which will include the lungs too. I can’t believe that this time last year I was in the hospital recovering and would never have guessed what the year ahead would have in store. Looking back on all that I have been through I can honestly say that I now appreciate the small things. I don’t take time spent with friends or family for granted and I certainly don’t have time for petty disagreements that would have been a big deal before. I remain positive for the future and try not to worry about the “what ifs”. Who is to say that I can’t be one of the lucky ones that doesn’t have a recurrence, right?!
I am currently about 12 weeks s/p right liver resection. I took 8 weeks off from work and was able to return full duty (I am a physical therapist) without any difficulty. I resumed chemotherapy a month after my surgery due to a positive lymph node and only 1mm clean margins. I was switched to gem/oxaliplatin because the cisplatin was resulting in considerable hearing loss. I seem to be handling this new cocktail of drugs with less fatigue but that could also be because I receive treatments only every other week instead of two weeks on/ one week off. This past monday was my 4th treatment. I am feeling pretty good and getting used to what a “new normal” feels like but I have to admit sometimes the weird noises, sensations or abdominal distension cause my mind to wonder. I was so happy when my CA-19 came back at 23 after my resection and this past week it was up in the 40s. ( Not freaking out yet, I’ll wait for the results of my first scan which is scheduled for July) I also have had to have 2 neulasta injections due to low WBC counts.
My oncologist initially told me that I would have 2-3 months of post-op chemo followed by radiation which is what brings me back here. How did anyone respond to the radiation? Is it easier/more difficult than chemo? Did you switch to an oral form of chemo while on radiation or have it included with the traditional form? My oncologist hinted that I would. As usual, all tips are greatly appreciated and I am so grateful for this site.
I am currently 2 1/2 weeks s/p right liver resection. They also removed my gallbladder, part of my omentum and 2 lymph nodes. I was told by the surgeons that the HIPEC procedure was not done because my peritoneal cavity looked disease free when they were searching for signs of additional disease. My surgeon said that my remaining liver looked healthy, however there are signs of PSC. When I went for my first follow-up visit my surgeon stated that one of the two lymph nodes that were removed tested positive for cancer cells and he was able to obtain clear margins, the closest was 1mm. He said that if it were up to him he would resume chemotherapy and possibly even radiation as a preventative measure for recurrence. I have already completed 5 months of chemotherapy prior to surgery. The cancer had invaded my blood vessels too but my doctor thinks he got it all.
Has anyone had a similar experience to this? I have heard that there is no proof that additional post-op chemo reduces likelihood of recurrence but I think it can’t hurt to have a systemic defense for this scary disease.
Two weeks ago I had my second abdominal/pelvic/chest CT scan after completing 5 months of Gem/Cis. I am thankful to report that my tumor has continued to shrink (a decrease in size of 30% since diagnosis), my abdominal lymph involvement could not be seen on the current CT scan and my CA 19-9 (which has been an good indicator for me) has decreased from 17,000 at diagnosis to 1,700 after three months of chemo to 112 two weeks ago. I met with my surgeon (Dr. Schwartz at Mt Sinai hospital in NYC) and we are “go-ahead” with a surgery date…. 3/23/17. Dr. Schwatrz says that the tumor shrank in such a way that it shrank pulling away from ducts and major blood vessels making getting clean margins more likely. I am still also scheduled for the HIPEC (hiperthermic intra- peritoneal chemo) to be performed while I am still in the operating room. I have stopped chemo until then to optimize healing post resection and am feeling pretty good. The cumulative effects of the chemo was kicking my butt fatigue wise. I must admit that at the time of diagnosis this is the best result I could have asked for and I am very thankful for that, but the anxiety I currently feel about the actual operation is insane. I have daily crying spells thinking about my own mortality. Does anyone else have experiences like this? Dr Schwartz says the operation should last about 5 hours and I should be in the hospital for about 5 days. How long did it take before those who had a resection felt like they were “back on their feet” and able to get around their house with ease? I am a physical therapist in a rehabilitation center…constantly transferring patients in and out of their bed/wheelchair so I know it will be a while before I am cleared to go back to work.
Any tips or suggestions that you have are greatly appreciated.
Today I met with the surgical oncologist who would be performing the HIPEC procedure during my resection. She made a lot of good points as to why I would be a good candidate for this additional procedure which is to use the localized chemo to hopefully kill any cancer cells found in my peritoneal cavity. I have already received 3 months of chemotherapy and the surgeons are still saying that my surgery would only take place after I finish the 6 month course to make sure that the cancer is still responding well to the chemo. They say that the tumor already in my liver is not my enemy.. it is the free floating cancer cells in my system that are looking for a place to settle down and grow…which is what the chemo is supposed to be taking care of. The only apprehension that I have is the waiting until April/May to have this surgery performed. If the surgeon that I am using for a second opinion proposes surgery before that (and not performing the HIPEC procedure) I don’t know which direction I would pursue.
I also just finished my fourth cycle of gem/cis. A few weeks ago I started to notice an occasional (maybe a few times a day) high pitched ringing in my ears. Recently in addition to the ringing I have noticed hearing loss. It is harder to hear people in a crowded room with a lot of background noise and everything just seems sort of muffled. My Dr. didn’t seem to concerned when I told him about the ringing. Just thought I would let you know that I have been having the same side effect as your husband.
( I just posted this on the surgery, resections and treatment options thread, curious to see what people think about this topic)
I just completed six treatment sessions of chemotherapy (gem/cis). On my first follow-up Ct scan I am happy to report that there has been shrinkage with my intrahepatic tumor as well as the surrounding lymph node involvement. This afternoon I heard from my surgeon about his next plan of action. He told me that since my tumors seem to responding well to the chemo, he wants me to continue with chemo for a total of 6 months at which point he will perform a resection as well as a procedure called HIPEC where “heated chemotherapy solution is pumped through your abdomen for 2 hours. This is performed at the same time as the resection” He says that with the removal of all detectable tumors and HIPEC there is now hope for long-term survival. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed with his plan. I was hoping for surgery ASAP. I know that CC is an aggressive cancer and I keep fearing metastatic growth. Has anyone had this HIPEC procedure? How long have your surgeons wanted to wait to perform your resections while continuing on chemo? When I first sought out opinions when diagnosed I was told by 3 surgeons that I was a surgical candidate but they want to try chemo first. What worries me is the “most aggressive” surgeon is the one suggesting this course of action which involves waiting a total of 6 months before resection. Im assuming the HIPEC is to take care of my lymph nodes in my abdomen that were swollen on initial scan and have now shrunk.
I have been doing pretty well on the gem/cis. I just had my 6th appointment of chemo today ( 2 weeks of chemo and one week off) and with the steroids, anti-nausea meds and fluids , I haven’t had really any side effects besides for bad fatigue the day after and a little bit of discomfort in the blood vessels in my arms that they are using for the chemo itself, but since you have a port you won’t have this problem. Chemos #1 and #2 were pretty uneventful but I started noticing hair loss after #3. I have thin hair to begin with so I have noticed a significant loss…I bought a wig.
One thing that I can recommend is to rest when you need to. The day after Chemo I need to go to bed as early as 7:00 on some weeks. Accept as much help from family/friends to make your life easier. I had a family member make a bunch of meals that she froze so when I get home I don’t have to make dinner. Since I usually don’t feel like eating in the morning I have found that an ensure/boost/carnation instant breakfast is an easy way to in calories and hydration.
I have an appointment for a second CT scan next week to see if the chemo has shrunk my tumor and the satellite tumors in my liver to hopefully schedule my resection in the near future. Have you gotten a second opinion? Even my oncologist has said that some surgeons are more aggressive than others. Wish you well!