“The scans look great! Even better than I could have expected.” Glorious words!
Yesterday Jim had his first post radiation MRI scan, and today we met with our lead doctor to talk about it. Everything looks great. The tumor has shrunk considerably. The higher grade (more dangerous) cancer cells appear to be largely dead.
The doctor explained that many of the tumor cells that remained after the surgery in September were destroyed by the radiation. The DNA in the rest of the cancer cells was damaged —he likened it to soldiers lying bloodied on a battlefield. The cells in their current form aren’t hurting Jim; they are only a threat if they try to divide (grow). The radiation will continue to “work” for many months by destroying those cells when they make the fatal mistake of trying to divide. Because the lower grade cells grow slowly, it might be many months before that process is complete.
In the meantime, Jim will continue to take the chemo drug. When I asked why, the doctor said it was like walking up to those bloodied soldiers laying on the battlefield and stomping on their heads. Sounds good to us! Jim will take a higher dose of the chemo drug for just 5 days a month. He’ll take medicine to prevent nausea, and he may experience some fatigue, but otherwise is unlikely to suffer side effects. If he tolerates the chemo well, he’ll probably continue this cycle for up to two years. He’ll have MRI scans every few months to monitor the effectiveness, and the doctor will make changes if needed.
“Looks good” we said as we prepared to leave. He corrected us: “Looks great!”