January 6, 2020

October 2019 Chest CT Scan, Chemo #1 of AC and Other Thoughts

Chest CT Scan

Had a CT Scan because the Oncologist saw a tiny spec of something in my lungs during the 1st Scan back in June. She wasn't very concerned with it because she said we have to take care of the Breast Cancer first.

She didn't think what she was seeing was lung "cancer" but if it was she said the chemo drugs I was on for breast cancer was used for lung cancer so he would go away in theory.

 I can remember when she told me she found something in my lungs and I couldn't look at her as she was telling me about it.  My dad died of lung cancer.  I couldn't handle it.

I told her that back in the 1980's I was diagnosed with this mysterious thing called Sarcodosis.  I never had any effects of it.  Sometimes it would show up on Chest XRay's but hadn't in the last 20 years so I forgot all about it.

I still think of it as  fluke or something.

The Oncologist said, that yes it could be sarcoid but she wouldn't know for sure unless we did a biopsy. She said at that time in June we would just watch it and see what happened.  So after the end of the 1st round of Chemo drugs she ordered a followed-up with a CT Chest scan.

So I had an appointment with the oncologist so she could give me the results of the CT Scan and we could talk about the next round of Chemo drugs.

Going into the doctor's appointment I really didn't know what "the best" results could be. If the spot in the lungs was gone then that meant it probably was cancer...and had it spread from the breast lump or just a new cancer location.

If it was still there what would that mean?  So I went into the appointment just asking for the best results whatever they could be. 

At the appointment the Oncologist walked into the room, we said hello and hugged.  Then she handed me the CT scan results and said we got "the best" results.  The tiny spot is still there in the lung but it's more than likely not cancer.

It is the same size it was during the 1st scan so it has shrunk or grown which indicates to her its not cancer. If it were cancer it would have grown in the three months or it would have shrunk/disappeared from the Chemo for three months but it did neither.

She said yes it could be the sarcoid but we would need a biopsy for that and for now we are going to deal with the breast cancer and continue to watch what happens to the spot. Also on the results of the CT Scan was they did not see any portion of the breast cancer mass!  The report actually said that it could have been surgically removed...that's how much nothing was showing up on the scan.

All "the best" possible results.  We talked about the next round of Chemo drugs and how bad it "could" get...not that it had too but it could.  Then I thanked her and tears welled up in my eyes.  I couldn't ask for a better doctor.  I trust her and that is not typically of me and the medical professionals.

Chemo#1 of AC

Next day new Chemo drugs started.

It was great to see all the nurse oncologist and I saw some of the other Chemo patients that I hadn't seen in a few weeks.  That was great!  My son went with me to this appointment because I didn't know how I would react to the new drugs. So it started with the pre-meds which lasted about 45 minutes THEN I got the strong Red Chemo that lasted 15 minutes than the C drug for 1.5 hours.  It was finished in 2 hours which wasn't bad. I instantly felt that impact since I hadn't had Chemo drugs in 3 weeks.

Then it was something new...Neulasta a patch that goes on your arm or stomach, keep it on for 28 hours and in 27 hours it pumps medicine in my body to help increase your white blood cells so you and keep on track for Chemo sessions.

By the time I got home it was instant tired, go to sleep.  The neuropothy in my feet is still there but has gotten a little better.  I was so tired my feet didn't even keep me up, but it was a bad nightSweats, having to drink water throughout the night, feeling like I wanted to throw up but didn't....OH NO!!!  My only grace is this is only for 8 weeks and it's only 4 hits as I now call these Chemo sessions.

I got a call from the nurse navigator  the next morning which was timely!

I asked her questions to make sure I understood the process. She gave me the same information the nurse oncologist gave me about Neulasta and how to deal with nausea and take the medicine.

We also talked about the process AFTER chemo is FINALLY done.  She recommended to have the Oncologist make the appointment for the MRI then make an appointment with the surgeon in 5 days.  He will have MRI results by then and will determine the type of surgery.

From what she can tell from the Chemo results she said I'm a candidate for Lumpectomy which is in/out patient surgery and recovery is 2-4 weeks. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Other Thoughts

Medical Bills

I'm still dealing with the $5,100 bill from Sentara Williamsburg for a Biopsy back in May 2019.  The insurance company says I should owe $3,500. Finally able to get Sentara to research this and they agree something is wrong and they have put the bill on hold and asked me not to pay until they research it.  I'm already at the $10,000 maximum out of pocket max...so no more medical bills for me until July 1, 2020!

All of this has made me want to learn more about Health Insurance. I've done a little research and it is interesting.  Actually becoming an insurance agent in VA is easy entrance...study, pass the test, find a broker...it is similar to becoming a real estate agent.

What Can You Do For Someone Going Through Cancer Treatment?

  1. ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THEM - this seems simple but it's goes a long way.  I can't tell you how appreciative I've been for my weekly text messages of people asking me how I've been doing. 
  2. DO NOT send a text or a call or a visit and you talk about yourself, normal/everyday stuff and ignore what the cancer patient is going through.  This is NOT helpful when this person is more than likely experiencing side-effects and their life has been tossed out of kilter.  Even asking about their cancer, chemo and trying to understand is helpful because that person can talk about it and feel like someone cares.  
  3. DO NOT talk about what you know about chemo and the experience because SOMEONE ELSE who had it told you about it. If it is YOUR cancer experience that is okay to share but second hand experience...don't focus on that.  Everybody's experience is different...just listen and ask thoughtful questions about THAT person who you are listening to.

Cancer Walks and Support

I've been thinking about these annual walks and wondering exactly what they accomplish, how they help cancer patients, and where the money goes?  They don't help defray the cost of treating cancer it seems, maybe it goes into the clinical trials that I keep hearing about?  I just don't know the purpose and I'm hopeful that I'm wrong and they are doing good work.