Today was my third of four infusions of the ipi/nivo combination and the day I learned the results of my interim CT scan. I will avoid leaving you in suspense – the nurse practitioner breezed through the door with a big smile and told me that the CT scan showed that my main tumor has shrunk by about 50%. When I asked about the smaller tumors she had to look again and said there was no evidence of them at all. My sister and I literally grasped for each other in shock- as if searching for the ground beneath our feet. The NP exclaimed that it is a great response! I had been warned that stable size or even a little growth was nothing to worry about because you often don’t see any shrinking until 12 weeks. Well, folks, it’s been less than 6 weeks! Hallelujah!
Yesterday I had planned to write a post, prior to hearing what the scans showed, to say that my intuition (though certainly not my head) was telling me that the treatment was working. I can't explain the intuition- I just knew.
Some interesting events over the past few weeks- Wednesday I had a massage that included some Reike. For those of you who do not know- reike is a form of energy healing. Don't laugh! I have read about 'radical remissions' and been working on the areas I had not done any work with yet and that was one! I had done reike a few weeks prior as well (I believe it was about 3 weeks). During the first Reike session, she stopped her hands right over my right pelvis and said it was the strongest she was ever felt a pull for healing. She described it as a strong pulling and said that her hair was standing on end. We had discussed a little bit about my cancer prior to this but she was unaware that this was exactly where the tumors were. A few days later I was in my room meditating (stress management and keeping myself emotionally and spiritually healthy were other areas of need) and I really tuned out, perhaps fell asleep. When I brought my awareness back to the room my whole body was tingling and I had chills. As I moved around some I noticed I felt my body aching. Fever? I went to take my temperature and sure enough it was 100.4. In the days after this happened my temperature returned to normal but I had much more aching in my pelvis. It was so persistent and different than before that I contacted my oncologist to ask about additional treatments and he scheduled me for the interim CT scan (the very one I did yesterday). However, a few days before the scan the pain subsided and the sensations felt more normal. Because this was consistent with an immune attack in the area I started to feel pretty confident that good things were happening. Then, two days ago, during my next Reike session, she said the pull to my pelvis was significantly less noticeable. I hadn't told her that I thought was working. She focused more on my stomach area which I told her had been bothering me slightly for the past few days. Today the scans confirmed that we were both right!
I should be clear that this is not out of the woods yet. Mucosal melanoma is a tricky, tricky disease,
However, celebratory dancing and fist pumping are totally appropriate because this is big, big news. If things continue to shrink at this rate, and the melanoma doesn’t have time to get sneaky and become resistant, then I have a chance to be a complete responder and have what they call a “durable response.” The length of which is unclear to them at this point!