I know Nathan left you with a cliffhanger in his last post and there was good reason. However, before the "bad" news, more on Sadie. Tuesday, September 13th, was her 2nd birthday. Dala (the nickname for Nathan's mom) made her famous vanilla cake with extra special chocolate frosting. It totally lived up to the hype from Nathan and his brother who enjoyed it each year on their birthdays growing up. As you can imagine, our diagnoses make us appreciate each day and cherish each milestone a little more.
So now...on the new season of Got Cancer?. The shit hits the fan. This is the shit...Nathan and I are crossing the street one day and I grab on to his arm suddenly. He looks at me with that "are you going to have a seizure look?" Good lord, is this how we're going to spend the rest of our lives...worrying about me having a seizure at any moment? I hope to god not. I've got enough to deal with already. I don't need to be under constant scrutiny. He asks if I've told anyone yet to which I reply, "No," with an indignant smirk on my face. "You should definitely tell Dr. Vazquez (the neurologist)." "Okay, okay...I call her." Again, are we going to worry about every sneeze, every cough, every wobble?
A couple of days later, I am at my weekly consultation with my oncologist, Dr. Volm. Everything looks good. Then he routinely asks, "Is there anything else?" "As a matter of fact, Nathan said I should tell Vazquez I've been a little off balance lately." "How long has this been going on?" "Um, a month I guess." "Well, let's see. You're last brain MRI was back in April. It's probably nothing, but, you know me, I'm very conservative so let's go ahead and schedule another one." Do you see it? The shit. It's looking right at the fan. MRI results...I have brain tumors. Bam. Fan.
Are you fucking kidding me? Perhaps I said that on the post where I found out that in addition to my husband, I, too, had breast cancer but this is really getting out of control people. Where's that goddamn lottery ticket?
So I didn't want to share this "bad" news until I could hopefully share an upside, if there was going to be an upside. And there is...sort of. There are 5 extremely small lesions in the brain. I read the report. It said extremely small so I am focusing on that. Four of them are on the cerebellum which controls balance. Ding, ding, ding! So I guess I have to give credit where credit is due. Nathan saved my brain. The other lesion is on the dura of the left parietal lobe. You all have Google. Please look it up. I'm not up for an anatomy lesson right now. How is this possible when last you heard the other metastases in my body were responding well to the chemotherapy and Herceptin? Well, turns out that those drugs do not cross "the blood brain barrier." Therefore, cancer cells can cross that barrier and allow other tumors to grow. The brain becomes their safe haven where the drugs can't find and attack them. Anyhoo, the plan from Volm's side was to add one, possibly, two new chemos to my regimen. He also wanted to consult with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Narayana, to see what he would recommend as surely I would need some form of radiation. Dr. Narayana's return from vacation had been delayed because of Hurricane Irene so we couldn't meet with him for a week, hence, the cliffhanger. So back to Narayana who is another excellent physician at NYU. His recommendation was to treat the tumors with Gamma Knife Surgery. It's very high tech and the "surgery" part is a bit of a misnomer. It's also extremely better than the alternative which is whole brain radiation (WBR). The short term effects of WBR aren't bad but a couple years down the road there would likely be significant cognitive impairments.
This is what the procedure entails. Narayana and the chief of neurosurgery, Dr. Golfinos, will be working in tandem. I was hoping for McDreamy, but, alas, he's not actually a brain surgeon, only he plays one on tv. I was also hoping for open brain surgery because that seems more dramatic and supports my theatrical tendencies, but, alas, no dice there either. So Gamma Knife. How does it work? A metal "halo" (see title's musical reference) with four points is drilled into the first layer of my skull. This creates a stationery grid of brain. Using a super duper MRI, they will map the location and size of my tumors a.k.a. lesions, and then, using 200 points of high dosage radiation zap the tumors. In very simple terms, it's like laser hair removal but this only requires one session. In fact, it's an outpatient procedure. I will go in around 5:30 am and be out by 1:30ish pm. I'll even be awake. They'll give me some Ativan and another drug which I can't pronounce or spell and is the drug that killed Michael Jackson (but he abused it) so not worry. The lesions are extremely small and the doctors are very hopeful that this will quickly and easily remove the visible metastases.
Again, it's definitely not good news but it could be worse...I guess.
Mom interrupted. Sadie just got home from nursery school so I'm signing off.