We’re just back from Denver, where we went directly from the VA Hospital to running errands to my parents’ place to the long drive home over the mountains. Hence the tardiness of this post. The short story: it’s all good news.
The details: Yesterday marked Richard’s tenth cystoscopy since the spring of 2008, the year he had a carcinoma that looked remarkably like a waving sea pen removed from his bladder. (A cystoscopy involves snaking a flexible scope up the urinary tract into the bladder to look around). The patient actually gets to watch the progress of the scope (as if you can’t feel it!) on a monitor, so it’s like a voyage inside your own body. But I digress. The results: His bladder looked so good that he’s “graduated” from having to undergo a cysto every three months (four times a year) to only once a year. That means three fewer trips to Denver each year, and three fewer medical procedures. Ya-hoo!
Today was the big stuff: His oncology appointment, wherein we were to learn what Tuesday night’s brain MRI showed. (Just for the record, I believe he’s at ten on brain MRIs as well–in only 14 months, so he may be setting some kind of endurance record here.) This one was the first look at what’s happening in his brain since the August surgery, in which his neurosurgery team removed a passel of Grade 4 tumors, the kind that carry a rather nasty prognosis. When Dr. Klein motioned us into her office from the crowded atrium waiting room at the VA Medical Center, we didn’t know what we’d hear.
Turns out–drum roll please!–the MRI was clear. No signs of cancer recurrance. Nothing suspicious at all. The only item of concern was fluid filling the cavity where the chunk of his right brain was removed. Dr. Klein reported that after consulting with a nueroradiologist and with Richard’s neurosurgery team, the consensus was (1) Something had to fill that hole in his brain, and (2) If the fluid isn’t causing symptoms, they’re not worried. Dr. Klein seemed quietly delighted, and we were positively giddy at the news.
As we talked about what we’re doing to keep him healthy and prevent the tumors from returning, she said something that sticks with me: “The longer you’ve gone without a recurrance, the lower the chances the tumors will return.” I can get behind that. She’s pleased at how healthy he is. “Keep doing what you’re doing,” she said. So we will, and I’ll write about the details of our anticancer lifestyle in another post.
Further, Dr. Klein doesn’t need to see him again until mid-January, which means we have two whole months with no medical appointments or procedures for the first time in this brain cancer journey. Woo-hoo!
After we left Dr. Klein, we did our running around, and then hit the road for home, aiming to be over the mountains before dark.
Turned out the day was not finished giving us gifts. Among the best was the herd of 200 or so elk lounging around in the high-altitude grasslands of South Park. (I shot this photo as we whizzed by about a half-mile away. Click on the photo and you can see that those dark spots really are elk.)
And the waxing moon rising in the East.
And the welcome sight of our very own Sangre de Cristo Range, catching the last light of the sun, as we drove down the valley toward home.
Today’s news doesn’t mean that our journey with brain cancer is over. It’s just three months since Richard’s last surgery. But as Dr. Klein said, each day the tumors don’t return increases the chances that they won’t.
So join us in celebrating this good news, and accept our thanks for the support and love we feel coming our way. We’re fortunate to have this and every day, and to have you all out there walking with us. Blessings to each of you!