Saturday, January 19, 2013

Never bet against cancer

In the five months since my brain tumor surgery, my biggest concern has been retaining short-term memory. That’s why Allie walked me through the events of the last week again yesterday—for the fourth or fifth time. I have a void in my memory from the moment of my seizure last Thursday about 6 p.m. until I regained consciousness in the hospital ER about an hour later. Unfortunately, I also have voids for the multiple retellings of what happened that evening. This is one story that doesn’t get better, or better remembered, with endless repetition.

The mental fatigue, dizziness and nausea I’ve been feeling the last few days have been added to the rash and itchiness I’d already had visited upon me as side-effects of immunotherapy. I’ve been losing weight as my meal choices have narrowed and appetite waned. I make sure a barf bowl is within reach when I sit down to eat. Almost anything is capable of turning my stomach.

I’ve also been sleeping like there was no tomorrow—12 to 13 hours/day. The naps have been things of beauty.

To probe a little deeper into what’s going on in my brain, we’ll be seeing a neurologist at Providence Medical Center on Monday. The MRI scans that were made on Friday contradicted those generated a month earlier that showed no recurrence of melanoma. Dr. Curti (my oncologist) told us on Thursday that an area at the back of the surgical site does, in fact, appear to have residual melanoma. This comes after being told previously that there was no cancer in the brain. It’s disappointing news, but is well within the melanoma play book. I heard the acronym “NBC“ first applied in oncology years ago and have remembered it: Never Bet Against Cancer. Just when you think you have a handle on it, cancer surprises.

In addition to my appointment with a neurologist, who I hope will resolve my gut issues, I will also see a radiation oncologist while in Portland. Dr. Bader has already offered by telephone his opinion that my newly identified brain cancer is treatable by gamma knife, a noninvasive medical procedure that uses high-energy  beams of ionizing radiation. It’s a one-day treatment and after having undergone whole-brain radiation already, the prospect of once again having a linear accelerator aimed at my head doesn’t intimidate me.

What does scare me is the possibility of having another seizure. The first one was unexpected and has presented unwelcome complications, most notably the loss of appetite. I’m taking the anti-seizure drug Keppra which, other than possibly adding to my fatigue, appears to be the right med for me. I’ll find out more about it and possible alternatives from the doc on Monday.


Paul and Karen said...

I really appreciate your updating us, Peter. I'm sorry you're feeling so poorly. Will be praying for a clear decision about the gamma knife.


Thandi said...

Sigh...Hope here'll be no more seizures and that this area of concern is easily sorted out. Hope the nausea etc settle down soon.

Unknown said...

Peter, we will continue to pray for your healing. - Christie

RBS said...

just a note that I'm praying for you. Ron