Dr. Mashru: “Good news. Pet scan continues to show no evidence of melanoma recurrence”. Looks like I am done with immunotherapy and with cancer. 🙏✨
This summary is from my PET scan on November 2 taken to look for metabolic hot spots. Those spots would likely be active cancer. The tech injected the radioactive material and I marinated in it for 77 minutes and then the full body scan. The technical summary goes like this: “The previously seen hypermetabolic pulmonary nodules are resolved or markedly decreased. No other metabolic pulmonary nodule is present. The previously seen FDG avid nodule near the gallbladder neck is no longer visualized. There is no abnormal FDG uptake in the abdomen and pelvis.”
When I did the same scan two years ago, it pointed to three hot spots: lungs, brain and gall bladder. That is all gone now.
The bladder cancer was removed surgically two years ago. I had some subsequent difficulty with blader infections but none for more than six months.
The scans taken two years ago show the melanoma in my lungs
and in my brain:
The team needed to determine exactly what kind of melanoma I had so they poked a needle into one of the tiny nodules in my lung. The doctor was a straight shooter and hit it but I developed a pneumothorax, air inside my chest, so I had to give up the final day of co-teaching Providence and Prayer with Todd Miles. But when my computer was delivered to the hospital room, I relieved my boredom by logging into the Zoom link, to the total surprise of the class, and taught from my hospital bed. The picture is inconic!
The immunotherapy treatments began with the combination of Opdivo and Yervoy. But after three infusions, I developed major reaction: My liver distress numbers which should top out at 40 were over 400. I had major muscle weakness and ended up with one eye almost closed, my should/neck muscles unable to hold my head up. So I taped my eyelids open, wore a neck brace and leaned heavily on a walker. I did one all day Boise Cohort class my our family room. After that I traveled to the teaching sites in Portland, San Jose, Costa Mesa and finally to Boise. A friend recently told me he was going to call in sick but remembered me and went to work.
After a three month reversal of the immunotherapy with 80 mg. of Prednisone, I restarted immunotherapy with Opdivo only. I have had minimal side effects. That treatment is finished now. I will be doing monthly blood panels and CT scans at 3-4 month intervals.
I am deeply grateful to the oncology team at Kaiser headed by Dr. Mashru and for an uncountable number of people who prayed and supported me.