|Split Rock Light House. Lake Superior, MN|
I am sitting in the Chicago Airport with only about ten minutes to spare so I am going to copy Jud's Caring Bridge site for yesterday so I may get this news to you more quickly.
We would especially appreciate your prayers and good thoughts at this time.
What a difference a year can make! This time last year I was at Stanford getting radiation therapy for Stage 3 pancreatic cancer that was deemed inoperable. We were brimming with hope that this might lead to the possibility of surgically removing the tumor. Two months later in March we got the news that my tumor had spread to the liver. The focus since then has been trying to find a chemotherapy that would at least slow tumor progression if not halt it. I am most grateful that during this year I have tolerated chemotherapy reasonably well and generally felt reasonably good with no significant pain.
As you know, I stopped the chemotherapy clinical trial at Mayo 3 weeks ago because I was continuing to have disease progression. It just wasn’t working. Today I had my consultation at Johns Hopkins. At the end of the appointment, it looked like I could be a candidate for a pancreas cancer vaccine. We were happy to have one more option. In preparation for starting that in a week or two, they drew some liver function blood tests.
This afternoon, Dr Le called to tell me that my liver function tests were significantly elevated most likely due to growth of the tumor. The degree of elevation would eliminate me from the vaccine trial. For that matter, it would preclude any other trials. The elevation is either due to the total tumor burden (Isn’t that a quaint medical way of talking about the amount of tumor you have? And, yes, it is definitely a burden!) or there could be a blockage in the biliary ducts. We talked to my Park Nicollet oncologist, Dr. Sherman, who recommended getting a CT scan to look for a blockage. If there is one, it is possible that it could be stented with a metal tube. That could reverse the liver function test elevations. It would also make me more comfortable and provide for a little longer survival. It is somewhat of a long shot but well worth doing.
My body in the past few weeks has been telling me that something has been wrong. I used to be able to blame chemo for any symptoms I had. That was nice because I could justify and tolerate the discomfort knowing that it was for the purpose of treating the cancer. Now, off chemo, it is the cancer itself that has caused me to feel ill. I told Sue that if I didn’t know that I had cancer, I would have been going to my doctor and telling her that something is really wrong with me. It is not necessarily specific. I have felt very weary. I sleep a lot. Food does not look appealing. It’s not that I am nauseated though I occasionally am. I just have no appetite. I am having intermittent pain under my rib cage when I breathe. This is probably due to the tumor irritating the capsule of the liver right under the diaphragm.
The day has been a roller coaster with plenty of tears. Instead of heading to sunny Arizona tomorrow, we will be going back to Minnesota. We will reschedule time with my family in sunshine and warmth later.
Thanks for the continuing love, support and acts of kindness!