Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gearing up

No medical appointments today. Tomorrow we see Dr Kaplan.

First she has a blood draw to make sure she is ok to continue the chemotherapy. So far she is doing alright, after her first treatment last Thursday. She feels relatively clear and not very sick. It's really hard to correlate the symptoms she is experiencing to particular treatments or cancer driven things. For example she is very unsteady. Is that related to the chemo, the meds, cancer showing up in the spinal fluid and affecting nerves controlling balance and gait, or a new brain tumor? She also has pain in her lower back - reasonably well managed with the pain meds she is on for her arm, but she still needs ice and ibuprofen to keep it down. That pain is likely not driven by the chemo, but by the cancer. So we need a scan of that area, but it is not the highest priority right now.

The countdown is on for the hair loss - it's been seven days and it usually occurs between days 14-21. She bought some fake eyelashes on-line yesterday and got her wig ready...

We will also talk with Kaplan about the spinal tap as a diagnostic procedure for cancer in the spinal fluid. My guess is he will want to wait to decide until the results of the brain MRI (Friday). My hunch is that even if he suspects cancer is in the spinal fluid (which is pretty likely from the research I have done) he will not want to recommend the spinal tap as the treatment (chemo) is what he has her on anyway. He may recommend radiation but that kind of treatment may not be too effective for cells in the fluid - it's better for solid mass tumors. The usual treatment for spinal fluid cancer is chemo poured directly into the fluid through a port surgically implanted in your head - which doesn't sound at all attractive. If she has brain tumors, treatment for those take priority.

In late stage cancer this is what typically happens - the tumor burden starts increasing and it can overwhelm the body's ability to handle it or the body's ability to deal with all the treatments, which must be staged and sequenced. Pain management becomes a bigger issue.

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