Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Discussions Today

Yes, I will admit that the inching tumor markers were worrying me. One of my colleagues picked up on my mood in my post and talked to me in my office. One thing he mentioned is that the numbers aren't very bad, comparatively speaking, that they haven't really spiked up much, and that the one marker, the CA15-3, doesn't differentiate between dead cancer cells and dead normal cells. We also chatted about some possibilities for further treatment that I should discuss with my oncologist. Anyway, it helped to just chat with him some today.

Then, I saw Dr. K today and while he didn't say anything really positive or negative about the tumor marker numbers (which I interpret to mean that he was hoping they would go down, but they didn't; however, they also didn't jump up), he did say that they usually like to wait "3-4 months" with hormone treatments like Femara because it usually takes several months for them to take effect. He quoted his professor who said, "with hormonal treatment [in this case, Femara, which prohibits aromasin from making estrogen], because the pathway through which it works is complicated, it takes awhile to see its effect on cancer cells".

Dr. K also said that sometimes the numbers do go up before they come down again. We'll revisit the situation come January.

He also said to keep monitoring the swollen lymph nodes in my left arm pit . .. those are an indicator, too. He thought they were the size of acorns, or about 1.5cm across. The CT scan in July said they were 2cm.

I asked him whether or not I should also take Xeloda - and he said no. For some reason, the anti-estrogen treatments and standard chemotherapy drugs tend to cancel each other out - was it because the Xeloda would destroy the Femara before either could do its job? Something like that.

So, in the meantime, I continue to have very mild side-effects: a bit of fatigue, dry mucous membranes, which in practical terms means that I don't produce as much saliva, and it affects the amount of liquid in my joints and hot flashes. Not too bad when all is said and done.

I had a good day, today. Worked on a couple of projects, started to make contacts for my Alaska trip in two weeks, met with a student, had my appointment, and then took Eddie for a playdate/birthday party and visited with his friend's mom. They have now invited me out for dinner, so I best take off to do that.

All in all, not a bad day. A good day, in fact. The sun is shining and I've been somewhat productive!


Daria said...

Thinking of you ... darn those numbers.

Liz Kreger said...

Interesting that Xeloda cancels out the Femara. Didn't know that ... but then again, I never took the two drugs together.

I suppose it depends which way you want to swing with your thinkin' on the numbers. Personally, I'd go with the optimistic view that numbers will rise before they fall. I do know it takes some time for the Femara to be effective (like most oral drugs).

Hang in there, Dee.