Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chemo Treatments on Hold Till After the Holidays (Yeay!)

I met with my oncologist yesterday, and requested that we hold off on the Chemo treatments until after Christmas and New Year's. He said, "Sure! I have no problem with that." He explained that these "agents" aren't subject to a rigorous schedule - that reasonable delays are OK. So, I should be pretty much at full strength for the Holidays!

I also told him that Dr. Liau had recommended extending the Chemo regimen by 3 months. He must have been in an agreeable mood - he said, "I'd actually have no qualms about extending it indefinitely." I understand that as long as the drug is well-tolerated by the patient, there's not a hard/fast rule about when to discontinue.

I'm hoping the extra 3 months will do the trick. Though I'm not having any major side-effects, the fatigue is still significant hurdle, although certainly tolerable - especially given the alternative!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Positive Reports from Neurosurgeon and Radiologist

I saw Dr. Linda Liau December 5 and the Radiologist (Dr. Yamplowsky) the following week. Let's take the radiologist first. He basically told me what I already knew - that they thought the cancer was gone; and that there was just that one little questionable area to keep an eye on. But it was great to get that confirmation; Dr. Yamplowsky was the only doctor that even mentioned that "non-specific" region at all.

Now, on to Dr. Liau. She was very positive. She said she recommended another 3 months of chemo treatments, solely as a precaution. She said that 6 months - up to a year - was sort of the UCLA "standard," provided the patient tolerated the drug. So, that means I'll do my next round immediately after the holidays (if my oncologist agrees), then three more months after that.

She offered to write prescription for occupational therapy (to improve my handwriting, which she said was often the last thing to come back) and "cognitive therapy" (a sub-set of speech therapy) to help clear up my thinking a bit more. Of course, I said 'yes' to both!

I really like Dr. Liau. She's very calm, positive, and has a pleasant sense of humor, which was definitely on display in this office visit (I guess humor would be quite out of place in my previous visit). The first thing she said was, "My, but doesn't everyone just look so ... normal!"

She also was the only doctor that actually reviewed the films of the MRI. She showed me a couple images of the cavity that used be the 'home' of my tumor. I'm glad it got an eviction notice from Dr. Liau!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It IS Good News!

I had an appointment with my oncologist on Friday, and he said: "You are no longer on my worry list!" He told me the report was almost as good as I could expect, and not to worry about the non-specific finding - it was probably just a result of the healing process.

He said there was no physiological cause for my symptoms - leaving the possibility open that they are psychological, or are the result of some subtle damage they can't see. If the latter, he said the overwhelming number of his patients continue to experience improvement for up to a year, so there's good warrant for believing I'll also improve.

He gave me the names of some counsellors who specialize in treating cancer patients, and one appears to be a provider for United Healthcare (I'll know for sure Monday).

Meanwhile, I'm still going to see my neurosurgeon, Dr. Liau, on Wednesday. I'm sure she'll give me a good report as well, but I want to discuss my continuing symptoms with her.

My intention is to try to work through some of the confusion-related issues by returning to work part-time, starting Monday.