Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Minimal" & "Stable"

Oh sweet baby kitten, I have great news. We recently received an email from my radiation oncologist, and things are lookin' pretty damn awesome! Let me start from the beginning though...

Friday morning, I had an unusual calmness for an MRI day. I just felt different. I wasn't sure if it was just insane mind control, or a sign of good things to come. Before the MRI started, I asked for an upbeat radio station - they pump music into your headphones to make the experience nicer. I usually choose something slow and relaxing to calm my nerves, but last time I got stuck with a barrage of heart wrenching ballads. It's no good when you're tearing up in the machine. Anyway, this time the young tech picked 106.1 which, according to their website, is a combination of "Top 40 and hits of the 80's and 90's." I literally was busting a mental move, wanting to shake my tail feather. It was AWESOME. They kept playing all the songs I already have on my MP3 player, so I kept flashing back to runs around the lake, visualizing my favorite Green Lake memories. The final song, as they wheeled me out of the machine, and removed my headphones, reminded me of my adopted (not literally, figuratively) little sis, Kristen Linde. It was Brittany Spears, causing me to grin from ear to ear. Priceless.

The MRI took a bit longer than expected, so as soon as I was dressed and found Danny and my parents in the waiting room, we rushed downstairs to the radiation oncology department to meet with my radiation oncologist's nurse.

As they checked me in, they took my vitals and my weight, 144. Then we waited in our room for our RN to give us the results from the MRI. As we waited, we visited and laughed. I was pretty stoked to be weighing in at 144 considering the fact that three months prior I weighed in at 159. Quite the weight change. When our RN came into the room, the first thing she said was, "Wow. You look incredible!" That is music to any one's ears, but especially a cancer patient. It shows that you're doing something right. Anyway, RN said a couple of pleasantries, then asked if we'd like to see the scan. Of course, in unison, we happily replied, "YEAH!" She looked right at me and said, "Well. I'm not going to lie to you, IT'S NOT GOOD! Follow me." My heart sunk to my feet, but I stood and followed. We walked around the corner to the computer screen and watched RN flip through the scans as we asked questions.

RN pulled up the October scan, and the April scan to compare the exact same slides. That way we could see the changes. In comparing the October and January scans, it did look like Herman had grown. It seemed obvious, but later, we realized that the magnification was different! That's a massive error in comparison. As RN continued to say how bad the MRI scan was, and continued to measure Herman with the diagnostic tools, our hearts sank and we felt baffled. It was later, when received an email from my oncologist (forwarded from RN) that we realized that RN doesn't know how to read MRIs very well. PHEW!! We were so scared, so disappointed, and all for nothing! Here is a direct quote from my radiation oncologist:

"There is a nodular region of T2/FLAIR signal
 hyperintensity without enhancement along the anterior lateral margin
 of the resection cavity measuring approximately 10 mm x 16 mm x 11 mm

 on images 602/130 and 603/105 which is similar to minimally increased

 in size compared to October 2011 study where it measured

 approximately 9 mm x 16 mm x 11 mm. Otherwise the T2/FLAIR signal

 
hyperintensity surrounding the resection cavity is stable. There are

 patchy
foci of nonenhancing T2 hyperintensity within the lower

 medulla which are similar compared to October 12, 2010 and April 15,

 2011 brain MRI which could represent
posttreatment changes or less

 likely artifact; these findings are not consistently identified on

 prior
MRIs.  No abnormal enhancement. No new mass lesions."

Now, here is where things get REALLY crazy. I pulled up the radiation report from October 25th (the last MRI). In the findings it states, "There has been interval progression of nodular area of T2/FLAIR signal abnormality at the anterior margin of the resection cavity compared to multiple prior examinations dating back to 10/12/2010 that is suspicious for tumor recurrence, measuring 11 mm x 10 mm x 16 mm..." Now, if they're measuring the volume of the tumor, the order of the numbers shouldn't matter, right? And if that is the case, then the numbers match up with Friday's measurements which would mean that the tumor did not grow at all. Anyone have any thoughts on that? I'm confused, but excited and hopeful. The other thing that we noticed, was that Herman is not as bright as he used to be, showing a lack of tumor cell density. Which makes sense because I feel great! 

This coming Wednesday I will meet with my radiation oncologist, a new neuro-oncologist, and a specialist that deals with seizure medications. They're still trying to get me to get back on seizure medicine even though I've been seizure free for almost 5.5 months. Sometimes I wonder where common sense, and logic are found in the heads of doctors. No doubt in my mind, they are insanely intelligent, and I need them in my life, but they just can't seem to get out of their train of thought. Just because I've had two seizures, does not mean that I need to be medicated. I am self medicating with nutrition, exercise, sleep, and meditation, and it is obviously working. Why can't they see that? Ugh. 

Anyway, I'm so excited to share this news, I hope you find it as hopeful as I did! We are on the right track with this artemisinin and artemether. I'm still going to do the high doses of sulforaphane on my off days with the artemether, just to do a double punch. I'm so excited for the next MRI. What a change!! 

Things I've learned from this most recent MRI:
1. Don't just listen to the first person that reads your scan. They may not have enough experience or education to truly diagnose or determine. 
2. Keep your chin up, and enjoy each day, even the stressful ones. Life is about how you handle things. 
3. If you feel stressed, take a slow deep breath and close your eyes. Picture something that makes you smile. It  viscerally changes your mood. 
4. If my tumor was genetically based, no amount of dietary change or supplement would effect its growth (PS Astrocytoma tumor cells grow/replicate exponentially). According to this most recent scan, there has been minimal to zero growth. There may even be a change/lessening of density. Therefore, my tumor is environmentally based and can be treated, perhaps eradicated, with diet and supplement changes. 

I am so excited about this turn of events! This means that maybe, possibly even someday soon, I can help others eradicate their brain tumors. This is the most non-invasive and promising treatment I've ever heard of. It's cheap, and has little to no side effects. I'M SO EXCITED!!!

Here are two photos from this morning. We awoke to snow in Seattle - a rare occasion. Life is so beautiful!

I see a heart in the tree, and it makes me smile.
Put birds on a heart tree, and that's just pure bliss!

Emma dog & Jess 

11 comments:

  1. AWESOME NEWS!!!!! Can't wait to hear how your appointment with Mrugala goes! Woo hoooo!!!!!

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  2. i love you big sis!!! xoxoxo

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  3. What great news! Your dedication and super food diet IS worth it:)

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  4. That is excellent news! You deserve this. All of your strength and dedication amazes me. Keep up the good work.

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  5. oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I checked your blog on a whim tonight not expecting anything. I am bouncing in my seat with such excitement and happiness! This is the best news! You go girl! Happy dance!

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  6. I knew it! There is no way this tumor will win. I can just feel it deep in my bones! I truly can! So glad to read the latest post, now I can go to bed happy!

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  7. Such great news!!! Hard work pays off!

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  8. What great news that the tumor is stable or even minimal, and the density is going down. You are working so hard to beat this thing. And it is paying off. Love you!

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  9. This is such a wonderful news Jess. We are doing a little dance for you right now. Keep up the work and strong spirit.
    Pete, Erin and Layla

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  10. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me!!! I've been smiling all day! Love you Jess- you are truly inspiring. AJ

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  11. Kicking Herman's ass! Best news ever Jess! Xoxoxo Lorraine

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