We met today with Dr. Mark McNamara, Christian’s new oncologist, who reviewed the recent CT/PET scans, the pathology results from the February surgery (including the tumors and lymph nodes that were removed), and his records dating back to the radiology that produced the diagnosis. The doctor examined Christian and asked some basic questions about the last couple of months. I’m thrilled to report that the surgery seems to have eliminated the cancer from Christian’s body. Can I reiterate that? There is no evidence that the cancer has returned or even that there is any cancer currently left in his body. It appears that the surgery SAVED HIS LIFE.
So the question now is: what’s next? Do we resume chemotherapy to ensure that all possible options are pursued? If so, what drugs are used? Is radiation an option? What the hell does “the margins weren’t clean” mean?
Dr. McNamara was very thoughtful and quite patient with our questions, and his tentative recommendation is that Christian should resume chemo in the next few weeks. If there are any microscopic remnants, he suggests that we strike now while the cancer is weak and Christian is gaining strength. It is possible they will use Gemzar, Xoloda, Cisplatin, or some combination of those three. It is possible that radiation will be used in concert with the drugs they select, although they cannot target the liver with radiation. It is possible that the microscopic cells will die off on their own. It seems there are few definitive answers, but I think we’re getting used to that. Still, the doctor pointed out that Christian’s condition is almost unprecedented. Usually patients in the advanced stages of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma are not resectable, and since Christian was–and successfully so!–there is little precedent to guide the decisions that need to be made. In other words, he is indeed a walking miracle. They will continue to monitor him for recurrence, since this can be a mighty pesky malignancy, but the last few weeks have made a remarkable difference in his prognosis. At the very least, he’s gone from stage IV to stage III, and with the removal of the affected lymph node, it might even be considered stage II. (We know they’re just semantic benchmarks, but the world suddenly looks a lot more hopeful through stage II glasses!)
We both know that the love and support of so many people has brought my husband to this point, and I’m grateful. Thank you so much for your messages, your calls, and your good wishes. We’re both so incredibly grateful!