January 25, 2018 Thursday
I’m still dancing a jig! Inside my heart, that is. The first (weird) thought in my head when I heard my good news was this: I feel like I’m on that tape called “Good Manners” that we listened to as children and jumping up and down and shouting, “God did it! God did it!” (My siblings will understand that reference. 🙂 ) The CT scan yesterday was the best news ever. In my book anyway!
That was the first words out of Dr. Rybka’s mouth when he walked into the exam room yesterday. “The CT scan is good, about a 50% decrease.” Huh?! What?! He signed into the computer and pulled up the CT scan pictures from yesterday’s scan and the one in September. He was right: the mass is 50% smaller! The CT scan report that was later finished and posted to my online account said the same thing. The mass went from 8.3×4 cm to 4×1.5 cm (approx.), while a swollen lymph node that was new on the last CT scan going from 1.5×1.5 cm to 0.7×0.7 cm.
I’m still walking on air. We weren’t even sure how effective this drug would be since it targets the CD30 antigen on the B lymphocytes and not the CD19 or CD20 like most non-Hodgkin’s treatments do. Remember, Mr. Brent is most commonly used for Hodgkin’s lymphoma since the CD30 antigen is expressed strongly in Hodgkin’s, not so much in non-Hodgkin’s. If Mr. Brent simply held the cancer at bay, we would have been grateful. To have it be this effective is a miracle. Seriously, my God can do anything! Truly, He does “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” I know He can and does do amazing things. I’ve seen it before, seen His miracles and His goodness to me. Why am I so surprised when He does it again?
Because I’m still coughing as much as I am, I assumed Brent was simply keeping it at bay. So, to have this much change was a wonderful surprise. So, what is causing my cough? That, my friends, is the $64,000 question. Once again, this CT scan noted, and I quote, “Persistent patchy airway related opacities in the lungs.” Every CT scan since May has stated something similar. On a CT scan, the lungs are supposed to show as large, black, mostly empty areas. Instead, my CT scans show gray, sort of tree branch patterns scattered throughout the blackness.
Usually those are indicative of infection, inflammation, or a small airways disease. I don’t have pneumonia. Apparently, there is some sort of chronic infection/inflammation going on in my lungs. Exactly what is impossible to know. Chronic inflammation following pneumonia? Effects of GVHD? Cumulative effects from beaucoup amounts of chemo plus radiation over the years? A lung disease? Who knows? Diagnosing small airway diseases in the lungs is notoriously difficult. Most likely, it is this inflammation in my lungs that is causing most of my cough. Dr. Rybka and I didn’t really discuss this aspect of the CT scan. I’d like to bring it up when I see him again in three weeks.
My bloodwork wasn’t completely normal, but not alarming. The last few blood tests both my kidney and liver levels have been elevated, not drastically so, but still not normal. Brentuximab can elevate both of those indicators, while 3 of the drugs I’m on can elevate kidney indicators as well. In light of that, we lowered the dosage on both the Bactrim (an antibiotic) and Tacro (my anti-rejection medication) while completely stopping Acyclovir, the anti-viral. Hopefully that will help my kidneys return to normal function. We will check it again in 3 weeks when I get my next Brentuximab infusion.
Since lowering my dosage of Prednisone to 5 milligrams went well, Dr. Rybka told me to lower it again by taking 5 milligrams every other day. I’m expecting to have a few days of not feeling so well when I do that, so I will wait to start that until next Monday, so I can enjoy my weekend. Overall, backing off the Prednisone is going much better than it was. I am so grateful. When I drop the dose, I have only a few days of not feeling so well and then everything returns to normal.
My blood glucose levels are still high, thanks to Prednisone. Hopefully, those return to normal once I’m off it completely. I have started losing weight! Slowly, but a little. My watches aren’t so tight on my wrist anymore, and my face isn’t quite as puffy as either. I’m looking forward to it all returning to normal once the Prednisone is out of my system.
What do the good results of this CT scan mean for the future? We don’t know. This good news isn’t a guarantee of anything, but I’m okay with that. I said that I will trust that God is a God of healing, and how He chooses to do that is up to Him. I still believe that. I will simply live whatever life I am given to honor Him. That’s what matters. Rejoice with me, and let’s trust Him for the rest.
Praise and Prayer
- Praise that Mr. Brent is working so well!!
- Praise that I’m still having relatively few side effects.
- Praise that going off prednisone is going much better.
- Praise that I’m recovering nicely from my sinus cold without complications.
- Prayer that Mr. Brent would continue to be effective.
- Prayer for healing as God wills.
God is still good.