My mom and I met with the radiologist yesterday. It was a very informative appointment that lasted 2.5 hours! I was amazed by how he just pulls up the bone scan and CT scans (which are videos) on his computer so that we all can see the tumor and whatever else is going on. He provided so much detail in his explanations and had a great bed side manner. My mom and I were very impressed. So right now we are at the stage where we have a lot of answers but are waiting for the MRI next week which is the last piece of the puzzle - but probably the most important piece.
I have been doing some research on lung cancer since the first CT scan my mom had. That is the type of person I am and it helps me find comfort in information and come to terms with reality. OK - so there are two types of lung cancer - small cell and non-small cell. Majority of patients, approx. 75% have non-small cell. I took the assumption that this would be the case for my mom and did most of my research on non-small cell. So when the doctor said she had small cell lung cancer it literally shocked me and I burst into tears. (which sucked bc I was suppose to be there to support my mom!!) Anyway, what I knew about small cell is that it grows and spreads very rapidly. After I pulled myself together (f*ck), the doctor carried on to say that yes it is aggressive, but responds much better to chemo and radiation then non-small cell. Surgery is almost never a treatment option with small cell - which is not an option in my moms case.
We then looked at my mom's bone scan. Again this has been a concern due to the extensive pain she has had for years in her back. From what the doctor could tell it appeared that the cancer has not spread to the bones. Yeah. However, we will have to wait for the specialist to confirm this.
We looked at the CT scan which showed us the tumor in the lung and how it has grown since her last CT scan a couple months ago. He also mentioned that the CT scan did not show any tumors growing in her brain.
The doctor concluded that he believes the cancer is limited to her lung. All the medical procedures we have done so far come to this conclusion. However, we still need the MRI because this brain scan is more detailed than the CT and would catch smaller cancer cells or tumors.
After this we discussed treatment options. There is the standard treatment for this type of cancer or else there is a clinical trial. Both involve chemotherapy and radiation, with the clinical trial being a bit more aggressive with radiation (she would get it twice a day as opposed to once a day). After radiation on the lung he would do radiation on the brain. I was confused by this and asked "so whether it is or is not in her brain, you would be doing radiation on the brain". Shock number 2 - he said no - if it is in her brain there will be no treatment for her at all!! There is pretty much nothing they can do. F*ck! My heart sank again. Who would have thought I would be praying for the chance for my mom to have chemo and radiation!
After the Radiologist left we talked with the RN about the clinical trial some more. My mom is interested in doing this as it may help another patient down the road. And really - why not do it.
So we finish the appointment and are walking out the door when the RN comes running down the hall and tells us the radiologist wanted to talk to us again. Boom - heart sinks again. We go back in the room and he tells us that he was looking more at the CT scan and there is fluid present around the heart. Everyone has this fluid but it should not be showing up on a CT scan. This fluid has also increased a little bit from her first CT scan. Is it cancer - can't tell. Unfortunately though - it may eliminate us from the clinical trial. But - they would still continue on with the standard treatment in which the chemo could eliminate it.
When we got home my mom and Karter were playing outside and I ran to the computer to determine survival rates. If it is limited to her lung the average life expectancy is two years. So what this means is that with treatment, 50% of these patients are living two years after being diagnosed. If the cancer has spread to her brain and she will not be eligible for treatment, the average life expectancy is 2-4 months! I decided not to share this info with my mom. She is in pretty good spirits and believes that it is limited to her lung - which I do as well.
I had a breakdown when Mark walked in the door. I was happy my mom and K were still outside. I needed a couple minutes to let down my guard and crumble. I literally melted into his arms. He is a great support!