During the Memorial Day weekend, along with remembering those who have served our country, we celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary with an escape to our old stomping grounds in Durham NC. We got to hang out together at a B&B in the revitalized downtown, and caught up with some good friends in local venues and on the waters, farms, neighborhoods, and gardens surrounding. Meanwhile, the girls stayed in Maryland and devised new ways to traumatize Aunt Sharon and Uncle John… Thanks to everyone who took care of us!
On our actual anniversary, May 29th, we swung by Johns Hopkins to meet with an endocrinologist regarding the pituitary situation (the “pitu situ“). We also took the opportunity to get the CT scan (originally scheduled for June 9) that is a prerequisite for the next vaccine treatment, and to check in with Sherri’s clinical trial team. She’s been enjoying a little extra energy burst courtesy of the steroids, and seems to slowly be getting the headaches under control. But this delicate balance of systems has been thrown a bit out of whack.
The CT scan showed substantial re-growth in her liver tumors, reversing some of the shrinkage from the original chemotherapy. This likely indicates that the immunotherapy treatment is less effective (at this point) than the chemo at managing the propagation of the cancer. She is also experiencing more discomfort lately compared to a month ago. Some of the growth could be inflammation, similar to the pitu situ, but we have to seriously consider the option of going back on chemo. This is disappointing and a bit daunting…
Steps we are taking now are to assess and narrow down next options. Last week: MRI at FCCC to determine if the pitu situ is under control, and checking on the CA19-9 tumor marker in the blood to see if it indicates that the cancer is on the move. This week, another CA19-9 checkpoint and meeting with our trusty FCCC team to get their perspective.
So we are resolved to implement Plan C. There are several chemotherapy options that are showing promise, but we also have to weight the possibility of using the FOLFIRINOX that has proven to work for Sherri but was becoming overly toxic in the previous regimen. Chemo has a history of working better after immunotherapy. We are also monitoring other, more aggressive immunotherapy trials because this approach still seems like the right thing to do.
As much as we’d like there to be black and white answers, there aren’t any in this business. It’s a constant trial and review – science experiments with hypotheses, results, and conclusions. All we can do is work on it, and try to keep it all in perspective. There is a bigger picture, and we are keeping that in mind.