Sunday, April 30, 2017

April Health Update

 Many of you have been asking me for a health update and I have been waiting until I actually have something to report.  I've been feeling somewhat guilty about my lack of writing but I'm very happy to report this is mostly due to my gradual return to life and my academic and other writing projects. However, I now do have something to report! But I will keep this brief. I had a new set of scans this past week. It's a month earlier than planned because I was having a minor increase in pain that didn't fit with the steady pace of healing from surgery three months ago. I had two scans. A chest/abdomen/pelvis CT scan and an MRI of the pelvis. The CT showed nothing suspicious other than a large ovarian cyst. I had a visit with my new oncologist at Vanderbilt the following day and he said that this result, combined with improved bloodwork/labs was a very promising sign and he would call me or message me with the result of the MRI when it was available. The CT scan is apparently best for visualizing the chest and abdomen and any large masses, but is a little difficult when it comes to the finer details of the pelvis, the area we are most concerned about for a reoccurence. Fortunately, the MRI also came back with nothing concerning, save a "run of the mill" ovarian cyst that we will "watch."

We have scheduled out the next three months, the standard cycle of waiting in the mucosal melanoma world. I will continue to have biweekly infusions of nivolumab with an eye for new side effects. At the end of July, and as it happens, on my 33rd birthday, I will have a full body PET scan, only my second ever. The PET scan can pick up even rather small activity but is much more toxic (and expensive) and therefore used less frequently. We have tentatively discussed that if the PET scan is free of any concerning signs, it might be time to try taking me off of treatment and switch to a watch and wait treatment plan (meaning CT/MRI scans every three months). I hope that is a worry that I get to enjoy this year!

Love to you all.

JB