As far as the appointment last week, we sat with this doctor (in his own office) for an hour going over the CT scan in detail. Up to this point we have never seen any of this. This doctor made sure that we understood everything we were looking at. Like I said, we didn't like what we saw or what he was saying but for some strange reason we just left there feeling good because now we actually had some data to make a good decision.
Here's what we were looking at. This first picture is of a lump the doctor found in her neck during his exam. This is probably still the cancerous lymph node she had before but he can't know for sure without doing surgery. But, since it hasn't grown he said if it was the cancerous lymph node that it is dormant - but something to watch.
The next picture is a cross section through her abdomen. I have added some descriptions of some of the organs. What we understood from Dr. Downey was that Kristi had two small tumors on each side of her kidneys. What she actually has is much more. In addition to the tumors, the entire area I have circled in blue are cancerous lymph nodes. These lymph nodes are dividing and reproducing at a faster rate than normal cells. Basically, they'll take over if not stopped. None of that gray matter should be in that blue circle - it should be solid black. Black indicates "nothing" or "air space". There should be nothing here. Instead it's full of cancerous lymph nodes...so many that they have pushed her thoracic aorta away from her spine. The thoracic aorta should be tight against her spine in this area. This is probably why she has the back pain. That infected region (the blue circle) runs probably 6-8 inches up and down in her abdominal area. As far as radiation...not an option. Radiation works on straight paths. They can't get to the infected area from the back because of the spine. Coming in from the front they would have to blast all the organs in front to get to the infected area. Sometimes this can work, but in Kristi's case it is too risky and the side effects wouldn't be tolerable. And, he said even after 5 weeks of treatment he couldn't guarantee he got it all. One other disadvantage of radiation is that it treats locally. So if Kristi does have other areas of her body infected, like her neck, radiation on her belly would do nothing for that.
So, with having all of that information the decision was "easier". Is starting chemo ever an "easy" decision? Of course not. But, we were convinced radiation was not the way to go. And this doctor agreed.
As for Dr. Downey...we are looking at moving Kristi's treatment to the Holland Oncologist Clinic. We have heard great things about their two doctors from other friends with cancer. We are trying to get in there to talk to the doctors to "interview" them. We are waiting for a call back.
This picture here has no relevance whatsoever. I just thought it was really cool. I was having fun playing with the CT scan program and running up and down her body. The eyeballs freaked me out.
So, that's about it. Just another day Living! with cancer. Please pray that the Holland clinic is accepting new patients and we can get an appointment to talk to the doctors. Please pray for patience and guidance over these next few days.