Progress!

Good news team. All that we are doing is working. Last week I performed my mid-treatment PET-CT scan and the results are in. My tumor has shrunk in size by about 80%! For those more imagistically inclined, that’s a 9 cm diameter grapefruit down to a 3 cm strawberry!

Red Grapefruit - Each : TargetFile:Arrow east.svg - Wikimedia CommonsWhat Rot! Strawberry Proteomics and the Art of Staying Fresh    

The other significant news is that the SUV (standard uptake value) of the tumor is now 2.4, down from 27.0 in January when my first scan was performed. The SUV is the rate at which the different tissues and/or tumors in the body metabolize special radioactive glucose injected intravenously before the test. You can see from my scans the significant difference:

January 22nd, 2020 (Before Treatment)

No need to circle anything here, as the massive tumor is indicated by the bright color in my left lung space – the organ appearing next to the tumor is my heart.

BEFORE

May 1st, 2020 

(After 2 months of healing work and chemotherapy)

AFTER2 - Copy

This time I circled the tumor in yellow, as you can see it is MUCH smaller and does not ‘light up’ like it did in January. I’ll explain this below.

The bright portions you see in my recent scan are what is clinically called a therapeutic response – meaning my bone marrow is lighting up because of the Neulasta medication, stimulating new blood cell growth. This was expected as my last injection was a few days before this scan.

What is important to note is that the tumor is not lighting up any more than the organs around it. My report said the tumor has a maximum SUV of approximately 2.4, minimally below mediastinal uptake, meaning that it is in the normal range for tissues in this area. This was given a Deauville Criteria score of 2, indicating a complete response to treatment. This is a very positive result for me as often patients’ mid-treatment scores can be Deauville 3 or 4, as inflamed tissue or continued cancerous activity may still be present.

image

When a nurse read the report to me over the phone I turned to Allie and high-fived her and breathed a deep sigh of relief. Since it was Cinco de Mayo we celebrated that evening with a Chipotle bowl and a terrible margarita in a bottle. Days later, my stomach is still not happy about that decision!

I told my doctor I was considering skipping the last two rounds of chemo – she suddenly became rather stern and explained that I need to complete the protocol to clean up any microscopic cancer cells not detectable on the scan. We laughed when I said I was joking and I just wanted to see her reaction.

Many people have asked me if I am elated or super-excited about this result. The truth is that I expected it. I know the work that I’ve been doing to heal, how you all have been showing up to support me, and listening to my intuition of what is happening inside me, was going to result in such news. Of course, I am thrilled to have it confirmed by a million-dollar machine and to be certain that the decisions I have been making the past 3 months have been good ones.

Today I am fasting and preparing to begin the fifth round of chemotherapy tomorrow. As I have written recently, the last weeks have been particularly difficult. The results above certainly help with my motivation, outlook and mood. June 21, the official last day of my chemotherapy regimen, feels a lot closer than it did in February. The healing and recovery will continue much beyond June, but at that point, most of it will be back in my hands.

7 thoughts on “Progress!

  1. Excellent news!!
    I also had $3 margaritas on Cinco de Mayo which was not a good idea in hindsight. You would think we would get wiser over the years. Nope.
    Keep up the positive work.

  2. Keith, after reading your Blog and seeing the photo’s I am in tears because I am so Happy and Relieved
    We worried for you. Love you so much, Mom &Dad xoxo

  3. Very Happy to hear the good news Keith! June 21st is just around the corner. Hang on, you are almost there.
    Uncle Pete

  4. Awesome news! Keith! Congratulations..You are well on your way to recovery..Your midlevel results and Deavillle score was sooo much bette than mine

    • Hi Gene,
      Where are you now with your treatment and recovery? How was your post-treatment score?

    • Hi Keith,

      My Deauville score was 3 with a SUV of 2.4 at end of March Pet with tumour of 6.8cm.

      In September the SUV was 28.9, tumour 16.7cm and I had serious shortness of breath and could feel myself dying.
      Now, I feel real good, and have been back to excercising since 2 weeks after last chemo in late Jan. Hair growing back 1st brows, lashes now start of head( though I remember having more 🙂

      When I got my test results my Onco had to deliver over the phone as Covid does not allow me to go to his offices. I didn’t know how to take the results as I thought scores would be better and still have fear of it coming back. He says I’m in remission and just need monitoring, no bloodwork. If we get out of Covid then next scan would be late June/early July. I honestly thought score would be 1 or 2. At midpoint my score was 4 and SUV was 3.67 and they said that was good but maybe I’m a perfectionist.

      I am so happy for you though and you are well on your way back to health!

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