I don’t know what my liver and kidneys are up to these days, but I’m immensely happy with them. This last round of chemo – Round 32 – was just as easy as the last several rounds, with my faithful organs pumping the chemo through my body quickly, efficiently, and without any real discomfort at all. By Wednesday afternoon, when I should normally be in bed chilling out and watching movies, I was bouncing around our kitchen making strawberry watermelon lemonade (with lemons from my own lemon tree). I fell asleep pretty early on most nights – early for me, at least, at around 10pm, but in general I felt energized and not headachy. Hey, I even had to do several hours of O'Melveny work on Tuesday and Thursday, and even lawyer work didn't give me a headache. That, my friends, is a win.
On Monday when I got chemo, I also got the results of my recent CT scan. The radiologists never actually know how to say anything nice on my report, but I compared my scan report to one a few months back, and at least three or four slightly enlarged and “suspicious” lymph nodes were no longer visible this time around. So that means we have scan-based proof that I’m beating the hell out of cancer but the radiologist who wrote the report is just too much of a negative nancy to point it out. There are only two visible and enlarged lymph nodes visible now, and they are shrinking. From my last surgery, we know that there are (or were) tiny specks of disease throughout my intestinal wall, but the CT scan doesn’t pick that up and never has.
Bottom line is that we don’t put that much faith in the scans. They show a couple of concerning lymph nodes that are a couple of millimeters bigger than they should be and shrinking, and they don’t show anything else. They never tell the whole story. It's not a sparkling report, but I expect to never have a sparkling report from the Norris radiologists. It’s a solid CT scan. It shows we’re on the right track and that the “tumor burden” (medical lingo for “amount of cancer”) on my body is ridiculously minimal.
With CT scans that aren’t exactly insightful, how do Dr. Lenz and I really measure my progress? My blood work results…my tumor markers, and especially my CEA since the other tumor markers are in the normal range.
So how’s the CEA? Last time, I dropped from an 8 point something to a 7.3, and this week, I busted into the 6s with a 6.9. A “normal” CEA count for someone who doesn’t have cancer is 3.8, so I’m getting awfully close to that number, and to vanquishing this idiot disease. Lenz and I won’t stop at 3.8, I’m sure – we don’t just want to beat cancer, we want to embarrass it.
For so many, cancer shows no mercy. So in turn, and for everyone who has lost their lives to the disease or who struggles so much because of it, I’m showing cancer no mercy.